Twice now I've heard Rush claim that there can't possibly be poverty and malnutrition in America because so many lower-class people are obese. And since I rarely subject myself to his rants, I have to assume that he's tried to sell this idea on many other occasions.
As with his startling misapprehension about how birth control pills work (Want to have sex? Take a pill first. Kind of like Viagra.), Rush's "logic" betrays his utter ignorance about how the real world works.
It turns out that obesity is associated with poverty all over the world. The explanation is most interesting…
Most of what follows is from the recent book Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, by Gary Taubes, an award-winning science reporter who spent a decade researching obesity and debunking many of the myths about it.
Among several examples, Taubes discusses the Pima Indians, an Arizona tribe who were prosperous and healthy hunters and farmers until white settlers reduced them to poverty and dependency beginning in the 1850's. Today they have perhaps the highest incidence of obesity and diabetes in the U.S.
What the Pima have in common with indigenous peoples all over the world is that when they began trading with Europeans—and adding refined sugar and white flour to their diets—they began to grow fat.
I'll skip the scientific explanation, which is fascinating but too complicated to recount here, and get to the bottom line: it's now incontrovertible that obesity is caused by a diet high in easily-digestible carbohydrates. And, all over the world, carbohydrate calories are invariably the cheapest calories. So poor people tend to subsist on foods that make them grow fat—even though they may actually be undernourished.
In a particularly perverse twist, eating nothing but carbs can cause fat cells to grow even while your other cells are starved for the energy they need—making you, yes, both fat and lazy.
Someone needs to explain this to Rush and the other right-wingers who insist that the prevalence of obesity proves that there's no such thing as poverty.