A record, still-rising $17.3 trillion national debt ... cultural decay ... partisan gridlock ... terrorism ... crumbling infrastructure ... the antisocial "social media"... failing public schools ... soaring college tuition .. texting ... climate change ...
And yes, the use of doughnuts, pizza and ice cream as products and/or prizes in fundraising drives.
That's a mere sampling of presumed menaces to youth. Perhaps a few of those perceived perils are overrated.
But before seeing a hole in the doughnuts-threaten-kids logic, take a hard look at your fellow Americans.
Lots of them, er, us, are fat, er, obese. And lots of the obese ones are young.
Now ponder this revelation from Tuesday's as-usual-intriguing health column by annoyingly fit Post and Courier colleague David Quick:
Angel Oak Elementary on Johns Island - the Charleston County district's "wellness" runner-up last year (North Charleston's Goodwin Elementary was No. 1) - held "a Krispy Kreme doughnut coupon sale with the incentives for the top-selling classes being a pizza party and an ice cream party."
Quick fairly asked: "Considering the health crisis facing the nation from childhood obesity, is there a place for junk food fundraisers in the schools anymore? Or is this just a case of old, easy habits having a hard time dying?"
Widespread angst over young folks eating doughnuts raises another question for us old folks: Aren't we glad we went to school when it was OK for us to eat doughnuts - and even cupcakes - in school?
Hello, Mr. Chips
Sure, there's an urgent need for America's kids - and grown-ups - to develop healthier eating habits. And on the good-news front, this week federal researchers announced a 43 percent drop in the obesity rate among U.S. 2- to 5-year-olds over the past decade.
Plus, though there's ample cause to decry President Barack Obama's numerous misguided policies, first lady Michelle Obama rates praise for her signature "Let's Move" exercise cause - and her push for better nutrition in American schools and homes.
Mrs. Obama proclaimed Thursday while hailing the Food and Drug Administration's new regulations requiring more accurate and easier-to-read labels on food products: "Our guiding principle here is very simple, that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf and be able to tell whether it's good for your family."
Among the FDA edicts: Labels must be more realistic about "servings" sizes.
For instance, a 10-ounce package of my favorite potato chip, the savory Lay's Wavy Original (try it with an generous glob of onion dip), currently lists "Servings Per Container 10."
One ounce per serving?
To borrow from a vintage Lay's commercial: "Betcha can't eat just one" ounce of those habit-forming chips.
So do the math:
Confine your Lay's Wavy Original consumption to that one one-ounce "serving," and that's just 160 calories. Eat the whole bag, and it's 1,600 calories - more than a two-thirds-pound Monster Thickburger from Hardee's.
Who's fooling whom?
Yet have our reading-comprehension and arithmetic skills sunk so low that we're now easy marks for blatant serving-size subterfuge?
And since when did we not know that potato chips, candy bars, cookies, ice cream, pizza, doughnuts, french fries, hamburgers, non-diet soda, sweet tea, hot dogs, fried chicken, pork chops and lots of other good-tasting stuff are fattening - especially when gulped down in gluttonous quantities? It's like the canard that smokers don't know they're putting themselves at risk - nearly a half century after federally mandated warning labels first appeared on cigarette packs.
Yes, relentless badgering about the benefits of healthy lifestyles - and the hazards of unhealthy ones - helps counter the overfeeding frenzy.
But if we can teach Americans of all ages to eat better and exercise more, why can't we also teach them to read and multiply well enough to calculate caloric intake?
And regardless of age, lest you despair over a long-losing battle of the bodily bulges, heed this advice from the late, great Rodney Dangerfield:
"I found there was only one way to look thin - hang out with fat people."
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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