Thursday, February 24, 2011

24 FEB 11: What's the Big Idea?

The cold winter weather admittedly put me out of running practice for a while. I made it more than three miles non-stop on a Saturday night in mid-January. But that now seems almost as isolated as the leader of Libya....

As I jogged down Broadway Wednesday evening, I passed a man who was (to put it politely) on the wide-bodied side. At least he was outside walking on a lovely evening, so that was good. And he appeared to carry a Subway sandwich, so maybe he's hired "Jared" as a consultant.

Many campaigns have been conducted in Columbus to get people to lose weight. But the latest one is the most aggressive and controversial. Billboards and TV ads offer blunt messages against child obesity -- such as: "Stop sugarcoating it, Columbus." Yet Krispy Kreme dared to reopen this week, anyway....

The ad campaign makes valid points about the issue. Georgia has the second highest childhood obesity rate of any U.S. state. And in Columbus, more than 30 percent of adults are considered obese. Maybe we shouldn't mention that so much - because visitors might think Columbus children waddle around simply because they love the Aflac duck so much.

But a local TV talk show host thinks some of the advertising goes too far. Pam Willis-Hovey told WLTZ one billboard crosses the line by warning, "Stocky, chubby, chunky are still fat." You simply won't build "Unity with Pam" with that sort of language....

Pam Willis-Hovey is concerned the billboard with those adjectives will hurt the self-esteem of overweight children, and could encourage other youngsters to bully them. But there's another way to look at this. Wouldn't the overweight child have a physical advantage in a wrestling match?

But the local co-host of radio's "Duke and the Doctor" says she supports the anti-obesity billboards. That's really not surprising, since Dr. Jan McBarron runs the Georgia Bariatrics weight loss clinic. Every pound you lose there means a slightly heavier purse for her.

Dr. Jan McBarron told WRBL the campaign is a "wake-up call," especially for parents. She says parents are to blame for obese children every bit as much as the child. Maybe every mother should threaten to send youngsters to bed "without their supper" - then actually do it.

The ad campaign is the work of a two-year-old agency called the Georgia Children's Health Alliance. It has backing from Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle, as well as Blue Cross and Blue Shield - but the way some people are reacting, the alliance director might need a literal blue shield for protection.

Ron Frieson says the billboards and TV ads are doing their jobs - getting people talking about child obesity. I'd call it an "in-your-face" approach, but the alliance really is aimed more at the stomachs....

Ron Frieson hints as the ad campaign continues, paid child actors shown in the billboards will take steps to lose weight. So don't be surprised if Jillian Michaels comes to town to announce a new series called "The Littlest Loser."

While many people in Columbus are talking about the billboards and TV ads, several businesses with a stake in the obesity issue are noticeably silent so far. There's no comment from the Keebler plant on "Hollow Tree Way" near Victory Drive -- not even pointing out how small and slim the cartoon elves seem to be.

And what happens if a lot of people take this campaign to heart? If childhood obesity in Georgia drops substantially, the University of Georgia football team may have trouble along the offensive line for years to come....

-> We've had a very good week so far in online poker. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION changed Wednesday night, and now is based on the recent editorial by WTVM's Lee Brantley. Should the Iron Bowl football game be suspended for a while, after the Toomer's Corner tree poisoning? Or is his suggestion simply so much tree fertilizer?

Our question about the tree poisoning itself had a lopsided outcome - as nine out of 11 voters say whoever did it should be sentenced to prison. Some of the comments were quite emotional, including one we admittedly edited because it was loaded with profanity. Simply because it's a college sports rivalry does NOT mean every fan passed advanced English classes.

"This guy needs to be committed -- not imprisoned!!" wrote one voter during our lamentably nonscientific poll. But who is setting an example for Harvey Updyke along these lines? Three different attorneys have refused to commit themselves to represent him....

Another voter suggested a possible sentence: "What if the courts could require him to take a poison that would make him suffer a slow painful death much like the poison he willingly used on the oaks?" That commenter went on to suggest I give the injection - which would be plenty of trouble, since I don't even look at the needles stuck in me for blood donations.

Back at the big rivalry, Auburn and Alabama played an ugly game on Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm). The Crimson Tide men came from 15 points down to win at the wire 51-49 -- so if Auburn Coach Tony Barbee told his players to "win one for the trees," it didn't quite work.

Some of the poll comments were aimed more in my direction. We'll dodge hold those for another day, and check the Wednesday news....

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported accused steak-stealer Jerry Mobley has a criminal record, which includes several shoplifting convictions. So no one can accuse this man of having chicken fingers....

+ Columbus Water Works admitted about 15,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into Upatoi Creek, and from there into the Chattahoochee River. Maybe Earth Services LLC offered to build a landfill on the wrong side of the state line.

+ Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson told WRBL the travel websites which have refused to list Columbus motels are "foreign corporations." Uh-oh - as we Southerners say, them's fightin' words. But I guess it explains why Orbitz spells its name in an unusual way.

+ Alabama state officials announced an immediate ban on canned drinks which combine alcohol with caffeine. That means Four Loko is now Four-bidden -- and don't you dare combine that drink with bath salts to make a margarita.

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