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Posted on March 28th, 2013, by

Will to gorge is universal. Ancient mythologies, works of the antique authors and eating contests held throughout the history in absolutely different places of our Earth all of these facts make the overeating issue almost eternal. What is the real side of it: self-indulgence or a hard disease of compulsive eating? Is this problem actual and significant and must we call an alert right now?
Francine Prose and Jason Fagone both are rather respected and prized authors, with a great professional experience. Obese issue is not the only and the main for them, but it drew their attention by its contradictoriness and inconsistency. Just lately the American nation has been the most overweight in the world having relinquished the title to the French. The cult of junk-food has led to the alarming growth of heart ailments in the USA caused by overeating. So there’s no surprising in government intervention to protect us from the greed of a corporate culture.

Francine Prose, The Wages of Sin
Francine Prose contemplates the unhealthy attention for fatty and sugary foods as a result of great number of junk-food and fast-food restaurants ads. Modern marketing ploys are not harmless anymore. Thirteen billion dollars, spent on food advertising, mean that nowadays four of five ads are for some excessively sugary and fatty product and directed preeminently at children (Prose 213). The result of such actions is deplorable: 14 percent of American children have problems with overweight (213). In a global sight, glutton is expected to surpass the cigarette smoking as the major preventable cause of death. Nearly 350,000 people die of obesity-related causes annually (213). As a partial remedy, essayist Ruth Rosen suggests to forbid the sale of junk food in schools and in offices. In a more glorious future, she sincerely hopes, the host who serves his guests greasy potato chips and doughnuts will incur the same horrified disapproval as the smoker who lights up and blows smoke in our faces (212)

The problem is undeniable, but its solving is not only in suing the purveyors of potato chips and candy bars. There is a common prejudice that fat people appearance is the result of their self-indulgence and laziness, moral weakness and lacking of self-denial. As sociologist Stanford M. Lyman points:

The apparently voluntary character of food gluttony serves to point up why it is more likely to seem criminal than sick, an act of moral defalcation rather than medical pathology. Although gluttony is not proscribed by the criminal law, it partakes of some of the social sanctions and moral understandings that govern orientations toward those who commit crimes Gluttony is an excessive self-indulgence. Even in its disrespect for the body it overvalues the ego that it slavishly satisfies. (Lyman 220)

That is to say, the glutton’s crime is crossing boundaries that we are afraid to be crossed. Our most primitive instincts hunger, territoriality and survival can be threatened by somebody’s enlarging appetite that engulfs the spaces of others. So, we return to the language of crime and innocence, sin and penance, guilt and punishment (Prose 214). Religious methods including such as sinner, saint, transgression, confession et al. are widely spread and used in many groups of dieters. Employing the terminology of religion by the members of Overeaters Anonymous helps them to inspire themselves to resist the temptation. They believe their praying and repenting will help them to provide a spiritual awakening and to recover the character. George Clark, the preacher, in such way had emphasized the church’s position on the gluttony issue:

Did you ever wonder why artists have never depicted and of Jesus’ disciples as being overweight or of the fleshy? No one could have followed Jesus very long and remained overweight If eating too much has brought on high blood pressure, heart trouble, or many of the other diseases which come from being overweight, then God requires a reduction in your eating. (216)

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