by Dale Connelly, 2/4/00
DC: This is DCR, news meant for amusement. There's a
new report about Americans and their free time that was published this
week in Recline, the journal of Leisure Science, and it reveals some
startling information about our eating habits. It turns out that we
are spending less time eating than we did over 30 years ago. Less time,
and yet, obesity is up. How is this possible? Joining me in the studio
is one of the authors of the report, a Professor of Idleness Studies
at Pandering College, Dr. Helen Taffy. Thanks for coming in.
Taffy: Not a problem.
DC: (amused) You weren't doing anything anyway, right? In the Idleness
Studies Department? Ha!
Sorry, you probably get a lot of that, don't you.
Taffy: (stifles laugh) Yeah, and for all the hundreds and hundreds of
times I've heard that line or something like it ... it still makes me
smile. It's a funny, funny field, leisure studies.
DC: Which is odd when you think about it, because people do take their
leisure time VERY seriously. We used to say "the business of America
is business, but increasingly, the business of America is leisure,"
Taffy: It is, and we in the field are busier than ever. Do you mind
if I have a quick bite while we talk? I've been running from interview
to interview today.
DC: Fine. Go right ahead.
(sfx: pop can open, sandwich unwrap)
The statistic that really floored me was that ... between 1965 and 1995,
the time men spent eating dropped about three hours a week, from 10.6
Taffy: (full mouth) Uh huh.
DC: And for women the time spent eating decreased from 8.7 to 7.2 hours
a week. That's incredible.
Taffy: (still chewing) Yup.
DC: So women and men are spending about the same amount of time eating
now ... but I don't know WHAT was going on back in 1965 with that almost
two hour difference.
Taffy: (lip smacking) Beats me.
DC: Maybe that's the famous old 2 hour business lunch.
Taffy: (more chewing) Could be.
DC: And yet obesity is going up! Less time eating ... more obesity.
(sfx: rustle of chip bag)
Taffy: Want some chips? They're ripples.
DC: No thanks. There's a contradiction there ... a mystery that begs
for attention, don't you think?
Taffy: (chewing) It's probably related to the kinds of foods we eat.
Higher fat. More calories.
DC: But is food so much more fattening today that we can gain weight
with so much less time spent eating? That doesn't seem fair, somehow.
Taffy: Especially if you're the one gaining the weight. Ha!
DC: Ha! Right. It IS a funny field, isn't it.
Taffy: (more chewing) That's why I went into Leisure Studies.
DC: So what is really at the heart of this? What's pushing that figure
Dragging it down, I should say!
DC: No, seriously, what's behind this?
Taffy: Behind it? I don't know, but whatever it is ... it's GROWING!
Get it? Behind. Growing.
DC: Seriously now, Dr. Taffy. The major culprit is ...?
Taffy: (eating) Fast food.
DC: That's it? Isn't there more to it than that?
Taffy: (mouth full) Nope.
DC: But wasn't fast food supposed to cut down on the preparation time
rather than the time spent actually eating?
Taffy: (crunching) Uh huh.
DC: You can have a fast food meal and still sit and make more of an
occasion out of it, but I wonder if people haven't de-valued food so
much that they just slam it in and go and don't even pay attention to
what it is and almost forget it as soon as they've swallowed.
Taffy: (full mouth) Mphghgh.
DC: And doesn't that have an effect?
Taffy: (sipping pop) Dunno. Maybe. Could be. Want some fries?
DC: Didn't you just have potato chips?
Taffy: (defensive) So?
DC: You're not even remembering what you eat! You're probably putting
in twice the calories because the food is tasteless and meaningless
You're really busy with something else at the time and ... you eat and
you don't even know you've eaten!
Taffy: I may not know I've eaten ... but everyone else knows! Ha!
DC: But seriously ... is it possible that the time spent eating is lower
because people don't even recognize when they're eating anymore?
Taffy: (full mouth) You mean like a constant feeding?
DC: A constant feeding, yes.
Taffy: (chewing) It's an interesting theory. Maybe we can get a grant
to study it. Some private source.
DC: There are a couple of buffet chains in town that are doing quite
Maybe you could approach them.
Taffy: Belly up to the bar!
(full mouth) Perfect.
DC: Dr. Helen Taffy is director of the Department of Idleness Studies
at Pandering College.
Dale Connelly Reporting Home