by Dave Barry, Columnist
published on Monday, September 10, 2001

Are you overweight? Take this simple medical test to find out: Stand with your arms hanging by your sides and your feet slightly apart. Now look out the window. If you see the United States of America, then you are overweight, because everybody here is.

We are in the midst of a national weight-gain epidemic, as indicated by the surgeon general’s just-released “Report on Obesity in America,” which is virtually unreadable because of Haagen-Dazs stains. And the situation is getting worse. This summer, for the first time, Walt Disney World was forced to close for two consecutive days because of vacationers getting wedged in the turnstiles.

The national weight problem is especially troubling for our young people, because as they have become fatter, their role models have become skinnier. Your modern pop stars – your Britney Spears, your Christina Aguilera, your Britney Aguilera, your Christina Spears and your Back N’ Street Sync Boys – have the body fat of a Bic pen. These stars have to be in superb shape because their musical acts consist of sprinting frantically back and forth across the stage, as if pursued by invisible jackals, so as to distract attention from the fact that their music – and I don’t mean this as a criticism, just an observation – bites.

When I was a youth, it was easier to relate, physically, to the pop stars, who tended to be less-mobile, larger-dimensioned artists such as Elvis Presley, Fats “Fats” Domino, and Luciano “Really Fats” Pavarotti. These artists did not sprint. Sometimes they took actual naps on stage.

Even when the pop stars of the past moved around, they stuck to movements that did not require superb physical conditioning, or even a central nervous system. A good example is a dance called “The Freddy,” which was popularized briefly in 1965 by Freddy and the Dreamers, a British Twit Invasion band that, when it performed this dance, strongly resembled a group of men failing a roadside sobriety test. (If we really want to gauge the character and judgment of today’s politicians, we should stop asking them if they ever took drugs, and instead ask them if they ever did “The Freddy.”)

But my point is that today we are a fat nation, and we have low self-esteem because our role models are thin. Something needs to be done about this. The simplest solution, of course, would be to put Britney Spears in a room filled with Moon Pies and refuse to let her out until she ate them all.

But that would be wrong. So instead we must embark on a national program to lose weight. There is only one safe, sane way to do this: Eat less, and exercise more. So we can rule THAT out. Which leads us to the only other option: hornet juice.

I am not making hornet juice up. There’s a Japanese company called Meiji that is selling a product (check it out for yourself at derived from the larvae of “giant killer hornets.” The company says that these hornets, which “grow up to five times the size of a typical wasp” and “kill about 40 people every year,” feed their young by killing other insects and then “chewing the meat into a ball.” The hornets feed these meatballs to their larvae, which then regurgitate a clear liquid, which the adult hornets drink. This gives them enough energy to fly 50 miles per day, which is more than you can say for some major airlines.

The company states that Japanese hornet scientists first tested the hornet juice on – I am still not making this up – “swimming mice.” The scientists found that the juice enabled the mice to turn fat into energy, and thus swim longer. The hornet juice was then tested on students riding exercise bicycles; sure enough, in a short time, these students were stinging people to death.

No, really, the students also converted fat to energy. And so now Meiji has put this juice into a drink for you, the consumer. It’s being sold under the name “VAAM”, which is smart marketing, because it has more consumer appeal than “Hornet Larvae Puke.” But whatever you call it, this is a product that America NEEDS. I could use some right now, to wash down these meatballs.

Dave Barry has been at The Miami Herald since 1983. A Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary, he writes about issues ranging from the international economy to exploding toilets.