With three new McDonald's being constructed every day, it's no wonder that the diet crazes of the '90s have fallen flat on their Olestra-leaking asses. We've Snackwelled our way through the cabbage soup diet, MetRx, the Cyberdiet, the Zone (eat protein the size of your palm, or just eat your palm), and the latest, SugarBusters (here's news: Sugar makes you fat). For those who prefer a magic pill, the decade brought us Phen-Fen and ReDux, though with a few irksome side effects: you know, valvular dysfunction, psychotic episodes. "I may be crazy, but I'm a size 6!"
Unfortunately, all these diets have served up is more weight. American obesity set records in the '90s. Today's 35-year-old male weighs 5.4 pounds more than his 1980 counterpart. Not so bad you think? Ladies, you better sit down, or likely you already are, because 35-year-old females ballooned nearly 19 pounds during the same period. The good news is that our ever-widening posteriors are being accommodated. Movie seats are larger. The Vashon Island ferry has lowered its rider capacity from 250 to 230, an acknowledgment that the industry standard 18-inches-per-seat cheek spread is no longer adequate.
The peculiar brand of principled pig-out that characterizes the '90s was perhaps best exemplified by convicted sex offender Leon Chartier. During an arraignment earlier this year, Chartier declared to the King County judge that he would eat no food until the charges were dropped. Sixty minutes later the hunger strike was over, as Leon enjoyed a jailhouse lunch of curried chicken, applesauce, rice, and salad. Not bad. Kinda healthy. Who knows? Maybe we'll all start the "Convict Diet" tomorrow. But, always tomorrow.