Project Fat Food

Many years ago, my brother worked as a supermarket bagger after school. During the four months employed there, he observed that women over a certain age, with a particular body type, always bought the same kind of food. If a woman looked healthy and slim, her basket would be filled with things like carrots, apples, eggs, and broccoli. If she was 75 pounds overweight, her basket would contain ice cream, potato chips, and Pop Tarts. He never saw an exception within a certain age group. Although this didn't always hold true for younger women, it did seem that after a certain age, the type of food dictates the type of body, proving the validity of that old proverb - "At twenty, you have the body you were born with; at forty, you have the body you deserve."

A number of my friends and I found this interesting and began a research project that we called Project Fat Food. Sorry, we were young, and giving it that name made it more fun. But in our defense, the military and government name their projects in similar ways all the time. Do any of them feel a bit silly?

Anyway, sometimes in groups and sometimes alone, we'd often find reason to go to the supermarket. When there, we targeted two types of women, both being at least forty years old. The first type was overweight - wayyyy overweight. The second type, less prevalent, had a slim, healthy looking body. We ignored the majority of women who fell between those two extremes. We didn't bother with men either, because after all, who cares?

Our method was simple, yet effective. We'd go to a supermarket and scope it out, hoping to find the aforementioned women. On spotting one, we'd discreetly observe the food in her cart.

We took Project Fat Food seriously and actually kept data, which unfortunately no longer exists. That data was written in five columns - Date, Name (which of us made the observation), Store, Women Type (fat or slim), and Food Type (good or bad).

It looked something like this.


We continued until we made well over 100 observations, which if I remember correctly, consisted of about 75% fats and 25% slims.

One day, one of us brought up the puzzling fact that we never found an exception. The slims always ate the right stuff and the fats never did. How could that be? Food couldn't be the only factor, and even if it were, why didn't we ever run into an overweight woman who was dieting that week, or a healthy woman, who decided that just for that day, she would splurge? It didn't seem right. There is always an exception to any rule. Why didn't we find one of those exceptions? That observation came at the right time because keeping the data was becoming tedious. We then dropped Project Fat Food and began Quest for the Exception, which didn't require organizing the information.

Quest for the Exception was really the end of the whole thing. We didn't take it seriously or try as hard. Once it began, we would still go to the supermarket, but not as often - yet it did eventually produce results. Within a year, my friend Tom saw two slims with bad food, as did my friends Brian and Bill who each saw a slim whose cart contained food that didn't look nutritious. I found exceptions too, although I'm not sure they count. One of them lit up a cigarette as soon as she left the store, and the other, although slim, didn't look exceptionally healthy. I think she was a smoker too. Nevertheless, the exceptions that Tom, Brian, and Bill observed did appear healthy, so yes indeed, there are legitimate exceptions to the rule, at least on the thin side. None of us ever saw a truly obese woman whose cart was filled with vegetables and fruit.

Project Fat Food and Quest for the Exception had a lasting affect on me. However, I don't know if it influenced my old friends. I've lost touch and haven't seen one of them in over twenty years. But sometimes I wonder, do any of them, like me, usually eat healthy food? - COB

There will be a new post every... Oh I don't know. Let's say every two weeks.