Jerry Knight, The Fat Track ,  Now We’re a Nation of Lite-Heavyweights

We guzzle $15 billion worth of diet soft drinks a year. We gobble up $2.4 billion worth of Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers, Lean Cuisine and the like and choke down another $1.7 billion worth of Ultra Slim-Fast, appetite suppressants and pseudo-foods. Our role models are Tommy Lasorda, Jenny Craig, Richard Simmons, Susan Powter and, on-again, off-again, Oprah.

But still we get fat.

The average American put on eight pounds between 1980 and 1991, and now one in three adults in the United States is certifiably overweight, the National Center for Health Statistics reported recently. That’s 2 billion new pounds of avoidable avoirdupois among us, an extra 1 million tons of tummy that took root during a decade when the diet business was growing even faster than our waistlines.

Other research by the Calorie Control council, a trade association for diet food makers, shows that 90 percent of U.S. adults now routinely consume foods labeled “diet,” “light,” “reduced calorie,” “low fat” or some such promise.
That’s up from 81 percent last year and 76 percent in 1992, thanks to a steady proliferation of products created to satisfy the demand for foods with a caloric advantage. Logically, those industry growth lines ought to be moving in opposite directions from statistical tape measures of our waistlines. If we’re eating more low-cal stuff, we shouldn’t be getting fatter.