We are what we eat, "they" say. And ain't it the truth! So why is anyone surprised that, "as human waistlines have ballooned, so has pets' girth"? So says an MSNBC report on the burgeoning pet obesity epidemic in the U.S.

You don't have to go to the Eiffel tower to gawk at the obvious physical difference between Americans and the rest of the world. You don't even have to go to Disney World (though that experience is a shoe-in for clarity on this issue). It's obvious that we have a problem here in the U.S. What we have to do to fix it is pretty darn clear, too. What's not so intuitive is how we actually go about doing it. Yes, I do claim to know what we need to do to fix it. Though the cultural climate that's created this overweight condition is multifactorial and complex, there are some obvious solutions: Eat less meat, cook more, and exercise more. That's what Mark Bittman said on the radio last week in a local interview on the subject of his new book, Food Matters. Though exasperatingly interviewed by one of the most back-asswards food writers I've ever had the displeasure to experience — which I do every week when she chronically botches our local NPR affiliate's food show — he made his point (and I paraphrase):

We're fat. Our kids are fat. Even our pets are fat. We need to eat less animal protein. We need to eat smaller portions. We need to eat less processed foods. And we will run out of our animal-based foods as our population explodes over the next hundred years. So start getting used to being a vegan by cutting it out of your diet now. Your waistline, wallet, and general well-being will thank you.

I'm so down with that message. But it's not enough to identify the culprit. Changing our behavior is what's going to have to happen. The reality (and irony) is that, as a culture, we're still too rich to give up our animal protein and we're too poor to avoid processed foods. So what's an American to do? But enough about us, already. Isn't this post about our pets? Sure it is. It's about the mentality and politics that keep our pets crunching away at the nastiest stuff we have to offer. It's about all the animals who live in the U.S. and therefore can't get away from all the fats and fillers packed into that bottomless bowl of kibble we humans somehow can't seem to deny from our "fur-babies." Because as long as we keep spoiling ourselves, we won't be able to resist spoiling our pets.

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "Fat Cat Picture - Moe" by danperry.com