Michelle Obama – ironically not the most svelte person herself – has made a personal crusade on diet, calorie consumption and obesity. Armed with data claiming that Americans are among the unhealthiest people on the planet with over 190 million Americans obese, she has advocated cutting down portions restaurants serve to kids, pressuring retailers to improve the nutritional quality of the food sold and pushing legislation enforcing higher standards for school lunches. Of course it is arguable whether being fat in America translates to being less healthy than a skinny malnourished person in some dismal country but that’s a story for another day. However, given all the attention paid to fat Americans in general and fat children in particular, the president has complemented his wife by railing at fat cats in corporate America. So it comes as some surprise that there is deafening silence from the White House on a report in the Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704476604576158372088195308.html?mod=e2tw) that over half of American pets are obese. Yet it is reasonable that if over half of America is fat, then half of America’s pets should be fat as well. I can see it now: the White House launching a campaign to push exercise for pets (another use for that treadmill), calorie labels displayed prominently on pet food, banning of pet snacks at Wal-Mart and Petsmart, Congressional legislation mandating healthy diets for Fido, and a national campaign against fat cats.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com