During a recent trip to my home state of Delaware, I noticed a sign outside a McDonald’s that was recruiting workers for up to $15 an hour. That’s over twice as much as the US federal minimum wage, which stands at a paltry $7.25 per hour. While that is akin to modern-day slavery, the maximum wage offered by Micky Dees is still exploitation, unless you’re a student with few to no costs. Working 40 hours a week, $15 an hour amounts to $31,200 a year flipping burgers, frying fries, and pouring liquid sugar without a vacation, and before taxes. It certainly doesn’t buy you much in most places in the US of 2022.
Speaking of McDonald’s, which specializes in low-quality, low-cost food that is high in fat, sugar, and carbs, one thing that stands out about US society that you notice the moment you enter the airport on arrival is how overweight most people are. It’s both appalling and sad. In Vietnam, as in other countries, there’s no sugarcoating this physical description. We use the word “fat.”
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Land of the Fat had an obesity rate of 41.9% in March 2020, an increase of 11.4% in just three years, making it number one in a most unenviable category among its peer countries. The obesity rate in England, for example, is 28%; another 36.2% of adults are overweight but not obese.
The implications for health, healthy life expectancy, and overall life expectancy are obvious. The illnesses associated with obesity include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. Living large is bad for your health.
When your server asks you if you’re still “working” on your meal, hoping to get the check and usher in the next round of customer$, s/he means it! On the bright side, one glimmer of a silver lining for those of us who need to lose a few pounds and are used to fresh ingredients is that the US is like a fat farm. We eat less and generally exercise more, which leads to weight loss.
Shalom (שלום), MAA