Runners too thin, says Surgeon General

WASHINGTON, D.C. Newly confirmed U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, declaring that the nation's runners are too thin, today unveiled a high-priority program that seeks to bulk them up with a combination of nutritional education, exercise reduction, and millions of free cheeseburgers and thick-shakes.

"Runners are an aberrant segment of the population," he explained while standing beside a chart showing average adult body mass projections for the next decade. "Over-exercised and undernourished, they threaten to slow America's rapid progress toward the goal of becoming the fattest people in the universe."

While government studies have shown that most Americans achieved big gains in girth during the expansive 1990s, runners as a group were left behind, gaining little or no weight. Runners in several southwest States actually lost weight.

"These statistics are nothing to be proud of," said Carmona. "But I'm intent on turning them around. Following these new guidelines, the average undersized runner with a little determination and discipline, should be able to pack on enough pounds in a year's time to comfortably fill-out an economy-class airplane seat or two. By 2010 the United States won't have the fastest runners, but by golly we'll have the biggest."

Carmona wants runners to cut their distance down to a maximum of three miles-per-week, eat a lot more, and spend more time lying around watching television. He believes that fast food, calorie rich, loaded with fat, salt, sugar, and easily masticated, is underutilized in the running community.

"We're not sure why this is the case, but we have a team of sociologists examining the issue full time," Carmona explained. "We'll be partnering with the fast food industry to make runners more aware of their nutritional options. Fast food is a key component of the program. Once runners start consuming more of the stuff, they won't be able to run as much, and their weight will go up accordingly."

Beginning next month, volunteers will be handing out 64-ounce chocolate thick-shakes and sacks containing a half-dozen cheeseburgers to sweat drenched runners leaving the finish chutes at hundreds of popular road races nationwide. Other volunteers will identify lean runners and ask them to step on a scale and sign weight gain pledges.

A joint Department of Health and Human Services/Justice Department toll-free telephone hotline has been established where concerned citizens can anonymously report information about skinny runners in their community or workplace.

"We want to talk to these people to ascertain why they're not gaining weight like the rest of us," explained Justice Department spokesperson, Judy Brisbane. "If a runner indicates a desire to run fast, that would be a red flag triggering further investigation. What is it that they're running from? If they've done nothing wrong, what's the big hurry?"

Concerned that he might be pulled aside and made to submit to embarrassing body fat measurements at a future road race, Justin Scarborough has finally succumbed to pressure from his non-running friends and relatives to gain weight. Somewhat bitter about his decision, the 40-mile-per-week, 5'-8" distance runner who weighs in at a scrawny 143 pounds, predicted that the hardest part will be cutting back his weekly mileage.

"That's because I really love running," he said in between munching down two jumbo-size deep-fried partially-hydrogenated taco salads with extra sour cream. "In today's climate, your patriotism is questioned if you don't have a big gut. It's not right, but that's the way it is I guess."

Scarborough fingered through some promotional material from the fast food industry, then turned his attention to a TV Guide, realizing he'll have time to fill as he slashes his running mileage.

"I used to blame my low weight on a fast metabolism," he added. After listening to the Surgeon General, I realize now that was just a convenient excuse. If I want to gain 70 pounds by next summer and look like my non-running friends, I'm going to have to work hard at running less and eating more."

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