Some of you may be aware that, for some time now, the Corn Refiners Association has been issuing little commercial spots trying to defend high fructose corn syrup against its detractors. There are several of these out now (and many more rather hilarious spoofs on youtube, check them out!) and one gets the sense that any thinking person will see they miss the point entirely and are deliberately misleading one from the real issues.
For example, this one. It concentrates on the fact that the sugar in corn syrup is biochemically indistinguishable from any fructose, basically. One can only think: and? The point isn't that corn sugar is categorically different or worse than any sugar, it's that it's injected into frickin' everything!!!! Into foods that normally wouldn't have so much sugar content. Look at the ingredient lists on your foods.
I, for one, am convinced that processed foods (and, especially, the addition of HFCS to everything) are a huge part of the obesity crisis. A crisis with no end in sight. Yet various economic interests (it always goes back to corn, no? They're the ones behind ethanol subsidies too) are trying to assuage people into accepting their fattening of America.
I remember last year Mark Shea had a series of articles (the original has been re-posted here) wherein he made a long tedious analogy between being overweight and being homosexual (he pushed a tongue-in-cheek "Jolly" identity to match that of "Gay") which basically was to make fun of the narrative of gay-victimization by showing how absurd certain claims would be if the obese claimed the same thing (about condemnations of gluttony, about no fat characters on TV, etc).
However, while I got his intended point, I could really only be struck by the fact that, in reality, the obese don't face the same obsession from the Church that homosexuals do. So his whole analogy falls flat. Conservative Christians spend a lot of time focusing their concern on lust, yet very little on gluttony. And certainly no one is bothering to call an overactive appetite for food, if restrained by self-control and temperance, "disordered."
Even though over two-thirds of people are overweight now and one-third morbidly obese. One would think that the latter, at least, would be indicative (and visibly so!) of grave sins of gluttony. Yet Christians aren't engaged in a witch-hunt against the fat the same way they are against gays. There is no Seminary Instruction excluding the "Jolly," and no one is protesting outside McDonald's for promoting the obese lifestyle (and if all sorts of cable exploitation shows are any indication, obesity is a lifestyle).
My point isn't that I approve of either sexual immorality or gluttony. I don't. My point is that obesity is a crisis that can be traced back to sin like any other, that is having visible effects on our health, which is accountable for billions of dollars of healthcare costs, even when people in the Third World are starving...and yet I've never heard a Catholic source seriously address this issue except maybe one-word mentions in lists of all the different ways our society is decadent (albeit it is).
Yet they'll cry "the sky is falling" all day and tell you that sexual immorality is a threat to society, of which there is little evidence (it has always been around). That's a sociological judgment they really aren't competent to make, after all, not a moral or spiritual judgment. Nor do medical arguments (usually very specious, if just a little safety is practiced) have any place in a moral argument. Something doesn't need to affect the temporal order or physical health to be immoral (though overeating clearly is doing both). Catholics aren't required to believe histrionic predictions about gay marriage causing the imminent collapse of society (I think it's much more likely just a symptom) in order to nevertheless hold to the moral teaching.
People seem to understand that, though the problem is economically structural, the obesity crisis can only probably be solved at this point by individuals making, individually, the right choices, even as the corn syrup people try to make a political campaign of the question. And yet the conservatives are so willing to turn around and politicize their pet issues (even though these also likewise probably won't be solved politically) and to invoke alleged medical and sociological consequences that are far from scientific, as simply scare-tactic ammo in their scattershot arguments. It really does make it seem like the primary identification of the conservatives is political rather than religious. That their real goal is political victory, to "win" the debate, rather than actually converting anyone.
Gluttony and sloth are both sins too. Obesity is a spiritual crisis, not just a medical one. Catholics: eat healthy, fast rigorously, and get out there and exercise. And, for God's sake, avoid high fructose corn syrup as much as possible.