Twenty years ago I joined my high school’s football team and over the next four years became intimately acquainted with pasta – the delicious flavor and al dente texture, the margherita and alfredo sauces that could drown it, and the marvelous butter and garlic soaked breads that could accompany it. I owed the joys of these team-bonding dinners to one of the coaches of my team. What I was too meatball-addled to realize then was that like a pig for Christmas dinner, we were being fattened up – not for the December dinner table, but for the football field.

All this because my high school football team had a size problem. Our affluent little town – full of band geeks, video game nerds and lean soccer stars, couldn’t find but a few mountains to hold the line of scrimmage (and those few were bused in from the city). Most of our players were smaller than our opponents – some who produced players who’d later play for Notre Dame. Though it took years of parental indoctrination, I was finally convinced – my coaches had decided to solve the team’s size problem by fattening us up with all-you-can-eat pasta dinners.

Ever since then, it’s been my size problem. I’ve done battle with the self-esteem and social issues obesity presents. I’ve had surgery on a disc that ruptured simply because I bent to pick up my jacket from the floor, and every backache since has me worried that I’ll end up under the knife again. Last year, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Then there are the risks I have yet to experience: diabetes, stroke, and coronary artery disease, to name a few. I don’t blame my coaches for this – I doubt they knew any better.

Continue reading “Anti-Obesity Is Not The New Homophobia” at Scientific American.

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