March 16, 2005, Supreme Irony Department: Decline in American Life Expectancy Should "Save Social Security"
According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, over the course of the next few decades, America's outrageously high overweight and/or obesity rate should knock at least 2 to 5 years off of our average 77 year life expectancy, providing more than enough actuarial good news to save social security without doing a damned thing!
Of course, the bad news is that the quality of the shorter lives Americans can come to expect as a variety of stresses on us (well, on 99% of us) will, alas, decline precipitiously. In some sense, decades of obsession with "low fat foods", at the same time that we are bombarded with food advertising in virtually every media imaginable, and as the quality of our food declines to ensure its "tastiness" by adding sugar and other gimmicks, we grow... progressively fatter.
The study observes that we still don't have a handle on what it is that is causing our national glut, but a simple correlation right here in Brooklyn shows that more affluent neighborhoods tend to have people in better shape than less affluent neighborhoods, and it's a darned good correlation City-wide (affluent Manhattan is in far better shape than it's outer-borough brethren).
Why? Well, people of lower income struggling to eat at all after rent, taxes, and transportation and health care costs are covered, tend to eat... less good food. Also, there is less TIME to eat at all, let alone eat properly. We are working harder than ever for less left over. Certainly compared to recent generations, which were apparently better off than we were... in almost every sense. AND... we will be funding their retirements, while no one will be funding ours (which, fortunately, won't bother us, as we'll likely be dead.)
Certainly, one hopes that the Tai Ch'i practices that our new Chinese overlords will likely introduce to all of us here will help alleviate some of the stress in our lives, and restore some balance, so maybe this rather gloomy study will not be quite so prescient as I fear it is...