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The Onion Takes On Childhood Obesity


The Onion – "America's Finest News Source" – is one of the few outlets around  that delivers consistently brilliant and scathing satire. But sometimes even the Onion hits just a little too close to home with its humor. Case in point, this piece posted yesterday, titled 2nd-Grade Teacher Can't Believe How Much Fatter They Keep Getting – which manages to be both hilarious and utterly depressing because it rings true. 

WASHINGTON, PA—With the 2012-2013 academic year beginning this week, longtime James G. Blaine Elementary School teacher Suzanne Pomponio, 39, expressed her astonishment Wednesday at how much fatter her second-graders keep getting.

"I honestly didn't think it was possible for this year's kids to be any fatter than last year's, but boy, was I wrong," Pomponio told reporters, explaining that her students have grown noticeably chunkier in each of her 15 years as an educator. "When they all came in on Monday morning, I really couldn't believe how huge they were. The first thing I thought was, wow, each student must be 8 to 10 pounds heavier than anyone in my 2011 class. And everyone in that class was pretty fat, too."

"The short ones are fat, the tall ones are fat—they're all just so fat," she added. "I didn't even know 7-year-olds could get that big."

While the Onion piece hits some fairly funny notes – the "teacher" in the article describes the smell in her classroom as "a mixture of sweat and meat of some kind" – this is pretty dark stuff. It is, in fact, almost indistinguishable from reality.

Plus: Antibiotics May Increase Infants' Risk for Obesity

Childhood obesity is a scourge that has more than tripled in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of children between 6 and 11 in the United States shot up from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent in 2008. The percentage of obese adolescents between 12 and 19 increased from 5 percent to 18 percent over the same period.

What do you make of the Onion article? Spot-on satire, or no laughing matter? Leave a comment