They just reported on the local evening news that Indiana is the 10th fattest state in the Union. I wonder where they did their research. The State Fair? The Mini-Marathon? That could make a big difference.
I’m never sure how they come up with these stats, but over the years I have made fun of scientific researchers for their fascination with bizarre and meaningless numbers. These are individuals who, statistically speaking, are among the unhappiest people in the world. About 75 percent of the studies show that 57 percent of statisticians are 49 percent unhappier than 75 percent of all other scientists. You probably knew that.
Here are some odd facts the number-crunchers have come up with: redheads need 25 percent more novocaine in the dental chair than people with other hair colors; 67 percent of men prefer gas grills to charcoal grills; pet owners wake up 45 percent more often in the middle of the night. I have written humor columns on all of those things.
But back to chubby Hoosiers, and the weirdest statistic of all: According to the University of Illinois, people who are overweight use more gas per mile than people who are thin. If no one were overweight, we could save a billion gallons of gas a year. What an astonishing figure! (I’m not referring to the out-of-shape figure that contributes to this excessive waste of precious natural resources.)
This information helps Americans understand the crisis we face with our dependence on foreign oil. Seems to me that the real crisis is more in domestic oil—Canola, peanut and corn—all of which can take a simple potato and turn it into a cholesterol catastrophe called a French fry.
Haven’t we made overweight people feel guilty enough already? How does a chubby guy in his Toyota Corolla react when some skinny PhD in a two-ton SUV pulls up next to him at the service station and tells him that being a little paunchy is threatening our national economy?
Imagine telling someone who orders a Big Mac, large fries and a Coke for lunch that if he would just switch to a salad with no dressing every day, he could get an extra mile per gallon. Oprah didn’t really care how she looked on the cover of O, but she lost weight to save 34 bucks a year on gas.
There is no motivation for the people selling gasoline to cooperate in addressing this issue. I went into a station the other day and my Speedy Rewards Card indicated I was now eligible for a free chocolate doughnut, large latté and egg-and-cheese sandwich. They didn’t mention that by consuming these items, I was going to end up spending more for fuel. What a scam.
We should not be proud of being the 10th heaviest state, but I try to look at the positive side of things. Last year I had the occasion to drive from one end of Kansas to the other. I don’t care what the scientists say about overweight Indiana, Kansas is wider across the middle.
Dick Wolfsie has written 12 books and has been a television personality for 30 years. His humor column appears weekly in The Times.