Friday, May 18, 2007

Yet Another new Disease for the Obese

Today for Funny Friday the Ottawa Citizen's Roger Collier explores a terrifying new plague targeting those with weight to lose - headlessness.

Have a great weekend!

A head is a terrible thing to lose
The Ottawa Citizen
Thu 17 May 2007
Roger Collier

You've seen pictures of them in newspapers. They're on television news, too, all the time. I find the images shocking. No one else seems to mind. But make no mistake: We have a pandemic on our hands, or at least an epidemic (definitely a demic of some kind).

North America is awash with the headless obese.

Obesity is a popular news topic. If you punch "obesity" into the Citizen's archives you'll find about 2,000 articles. The New York Times' archives contain almost 2,500. Most are about new studies and, invariably, have headlines containing the word "link."

For example, the Citizen published an article titled "Researchers link 'fat gene' to obesity" on April 13. It claimed some people are prone to obesity for genetic reasons. A picture accompanied the article: a man, overweight, dressed in sweats. Oh, and he had no head.

I've seen many other obesity articles in many other newspapers and the pictures are always the same. Obese people. No heads. Yet, while the articles go into great detail about certain health risks associated with obesity, they fail to mention what, in my opinion, is the greatest risk of all: headlessness.

The Citizen article linked obesity to heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Those are all very bad things, I'm not denying that. But, really, shouldn't it have at least made passing mention that a generous stomach might result in a pate-free future?

I'm not a doctor, but I'm fairly certain the head is a vital part of the body. I mean, that's where your nose is. How do the headless keep their glasses from slipping?

When a television newscast does an obesity story, the footage usually includes a few shots of chunky, headless people wobbling through a mall or along a sidewalk. Often, these people are eating ice cream. (No small feat, considering they don't have mouths.) The newscaster will say things like "Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable illness" or "Dairy Queen introduces new Kit Kat Blizzard." (One of those may have been a commercial.) But will the newscaster note that the mall-wobblers lack noggins? Fat chance.

Why isn't anyone talking about these headless people? Is headlessness a media taboo? Is this a big cover-up?

To find answers to these questions, I called the National Organization for Obesity Studies' media department. I asked the director why everyone is keeping mum about the headless obese.

"These people have heads," she told me. "The heads are just cropped out as a courtesy. How would you like to see your face in a newspaper next to an article about obesity?"

I was stunned. Even the media director of an organization formed to help the obese was in on the cover-up.

"Look, this is serious," I told her. "People are losing their heads. The public has a right to know."

"You're an idiot," she told me, and hung up.

Her argument was compelling, but I wasn't convinced. (Secondary sources later confirmed that I am, indeed, an idiot.) This is a real problem and it must be addressed -- if not for those who have already lost their heads, for their children.

It's no secret that Canadian kids aren't healthy. In the past 25 years, the number of children considered overweight or obese has increased by 70 per cent.

So far, most of the headless obese are adults. But if our children continue to expand around the middle, many will soon be light above the shoulders, too. And the effects will be devastating.

The economy will suffer tremendously. Without heads, children will not be able to meet the minimum height requirements for most amusement park rides, which means fewer bums in roller coasters. Sales of hair gel and baseball caps will plummet. Youngsters without ears will have little use for iPods or iPhones or iWhatevers.

The health-care system will also have to adjust. Headless children won't be able to take medicine orally, so all drugs will have to be administered intravenously. Physicians will have to find new ways of examining young people. If, for example, a doctor needs a headless lad to turn his head and cough, well, good luck with that.

And let's not forget the environment. I'm not sure how headless children affect global warming, but everything else seems to these days so I'll throw that in, too.

If more people, young and old, were aware of this horrible consequence of obesity, perhaps they would adopt healthier lifestyles. Because if there's one thing you don't want on your shoulders, it's no head.