Let’s get one thing clear: when the TV talk-show people lavish praise on the idea, it has nothing to do with some abstract notion of the costs of obesity. They just don’t like fat people. Fat people, at best, are a rebuke their own finicky vanity – I look good, why can’t you? – and at the worst, aesthetically unpleasant. If they all went away, the trim pert types woudl miss them after a while, and realize that people no longer came pre-packaged in a style that made them easy to dismiss.

A thin woman with three children by three men who can’t get by is an object of concern. A fat women with two kids who can’t get by is a toad, and probably a smoker.

A culture that redefines food choices as moral issues will demonize the people who don’t share the tastes of the priest class. A culture that elevates eating to some holistic act of ethical self-definition – localvore, low-carbon-impact food, fair trade, artisanal cheese – will find the casual carefree choices of the less-enlightened as an affront to their belief system. Leave it to Americans to invent a Puritan strain of Epicurianism.