Douglas Coupland (on the economics of fat)

“Perhaps the ultimate truth about weight gain in western cultures – certainly in the U.S. – is that obese people are simply much, much better for the economy than thin people. They eat more food and, in so doing, drive up the need for agriculture, food processing, packaging and advertising. They get sicker more often and keep the medical system busier. They rely more on their vehicles, which is great for big oil. In fact, there is not one single aspect of capitalism that is not enhanced, on the dollar level, by obesity. Obesity…represents the end state of a certain way of viewing and experiencing the world.”

Douglas Coupland (1961- ) is a Canadian writer, best known for the first of his dozen novels, Generation X. He also trained and still works as a visual artist, and has several non-fiction books as well, usually incorporating photography. He became a writer completely by fluke, he says, though now “there’s nothing else I’d rather do”.

This is extracted from a piece called “Living Big” in the Financial Times Magazine. (The emphasis in the quotation is mine, not Coupland’s.) It’s very interesting, starting off with a series of anecdotes that seem only partially connected, and then concluding with an argument that makes what preceded into a sensible whole — not your standard high school five-paragraph expository essay. Hurray!