Enjoy your metabolic rate while you still can

November 21, 2012|By TIM ROWLAND |
  • Tim Rowland
Tim Rowland

As I stand here somberly carving the Thanksgiving Twinkie, I reflect on the direction America is going, and all I can say is, For Shame, For Shame, For Shame.

Here we are on this most special day, celebrating — well, I forget what we’re celebrating, specifically, but I know that everything on this holiday centers on food. Yet today, we as a nation can’t even keep Hostess in business.

What have we become?

I know, Hostess goes out of business about every six months, so this whole thing might be a bit premature. It’s what they do.

But this charade would be totally unnecessary if the company would adopt a different business strategy, which would include moving to Hagerstown. Here, there would be no problem with sales because they could just throw Twinkies and Ho Hos off the loading dock to the crowd, much like the zookeeper at SeaWorld throws fish to the seals.

But aside from that, I believe we are viewing the Hostess debacle in the wrong light. Everyone’s framing it as a labor versus management debate, when we should be concerned about America’s eating habits. Apparently Hostess was blindsided by this whole new “healthy eating” trend, which has hung on with annoying stubbornness. I guess Hostess just assumed the fad would end, and we would all continue to eat like pigs, just as we always have.

My money would have been on that scenario as well, and I’m still not convinced it’s the wrong pony to bet on. It’s a fascinating fight, really. It pits the fashion industry against the food industry, medical institutions against Wall Street institutions, TV “watch your weight” scolds against TV “be comfortable with your own shape” scolds. The federal government subsidizes sugar and New York City government restricts its sale.

(I always wonder how the Irish during the potato famine would have felt if they’d been told that in another 150 years society’s main problem would have centered on eating too much.)

But just when you figure we’re about to revert to our unhealthy excess, along comes a new diet or fad that skews us back toward unhealthy deprivation. Only this time, the fad isn’t coming from the normal suspects, it is in fact being driven by — teenage boys.

According to the New York Times, “It is not just girls these days who are consumed by an unattainable body image … Pediatricians are starting to sound the alarm bells about boys who take unhealthy measures to try to achieve Charles Atlas bodies that only genetics can truly confer.”

Boys are starving themselves of food and taking dubious supplements; they are lifting weights in order to be able to lift more weights.

All I can say is, dudes, stop it. Don’t deprive yourself, because this is the one time in your life when you can eat the entire supermarket inventory, and get away with it. I am not saying that, when I was a teenage boy, I went so far as to put the refrigerator on wheels and fashion a harness allowing me to pull it around with me everywhere I went. But if I had, it sure would have saved a lot of trips.

For boys, this is the time in life when their metabolism approaches speeds generally associated with particle accelerators in search of the Higgs boson. I remember that time, and I can tell you that I wasn’t at a gym six hours a day, I was at Dairy Queen. Miss that at your own risk, because in 20 years there won’t be any going back.

Well, there is, but you will look like the first person in line at the Twinkie loading dock.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

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