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A Weighty Aesop
What do you get when you guzzle down sweets?
Eating as much as an elephant eats.
What are you at, getting terribly fat?
What do you think will come of that?

Our protagonists may be seen eating junk food whenever they can (sometimes being integral to the plot), but no one's really raised a big stink about it, right?

In comes this Stock Aesop, which does its damnedest to demonize too much junk food and glorifies exercise. Generally, it involves one or more characters getting hooked on some sort of junk food, making their health deteriorate badly and expanding their waistline. Usually, the rest of the group (if it's one person addicted) or the sole outlier (if the whole group's addicted) will have to get things back to normal.

These morals tend to get heavy-handed which, combined with their increasing frequency since the Turn of the Millennium, can quickly make them the bane of Genre Savvy viewers. In all fairness, though, many children in developed countries have been getting heavier to the point of obesity in recent years (as have many adults, for that matter), so obviously the higher-ups want to tell people about it.

This won't stop the writers from having the protagonists eating more junk food in the next episode, though. After all, Status Quo Is God.

One scary if somewhat silly way to present this aesop that sometimes shows up in horror, sci-fi and fantasy works is to show that fatter humans are more desirable prey for people-eating monsters and aliens. It moves the aesop into much darker territory, but the message can easily get lost because being eaten by a Martian isn't likely to happen to any audience member.

Compare If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You and Nutritional Nightmare.

Contrast Balloon Belly and Fat Comic Relief (which are about fat people Played for Laughs) and Acrofatic (which is about fat people that can achieve impressive physical feats despite their weight). See also Diet Episode.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kirby of the Stars has an episode entitled "Fitness Fiend", which involves Dedede trying to make super-fattening, addictive potato chips. Unfortunately, he ends up falling victim to their effect, along with Kirby!
  • Pokémon has a Diet Episode in which a trainer's Chespin spends almost all its screen-time eating, mostly behind his back. Consequently, the Chespin gains so much weight that it can't put up a fight.

    Films — Animation 
  • WALL•E can be interpreted to have one of these, though the filmmakers claim it was accidental and the real Aesop is more of a warning against over-consumerism.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is basically the point of the film Super Size Me, where Morgan Spurlock goes on a McDonald's diet for a month. Needless to say, it doesn't turn out well for him.note 

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used in a throwaway scene in Stargate SG-1 season 6. As the season begins, alien refugee Jonas Quinn is shown eating in nearly every scene at the SGC. He later mentions to Carter that he's really gotten into this "traditional all-American food". Carter points out to him that America has another tradition: hardened arteries. This aspect of Jonas' character was quietly dropped after that.
  • In an episode of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Tommy lectures a student of his about healthy eating. This inspires Rita to shrink down the Monster of the Week and literally gets it inside Tommy's stomach — causing Tommy to constantly crave junk food to a ridiculous extreme, even stealing food off of other people's tables.
  • That's So Raven has an episode called "Food for Thought", in which Raven's school becomes a food court full of junk food (which is at least partly Truth in Television, sadly) and Raven and Chelsea try to stop it.
    Raven: Put down the pies! Do not maximize! You got to exercise, or the scale will rise and so will your thighs!
    Eddie: Now who wants some fries?
  • Robin and Barney's relationship in How I Met Your Mother has shades of this at one point, though it's mostly about how the relationship is making them unhealthy than it is about how junk food and/or fatty foods are bad for you.
  • Supernatural:

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Arthur Gets Fit is about Arthur freaking out over becoming "husky" (despite not looking any fatter than usual).
  • The Fairly OddParents had the episode "Just Desserts!" in which Timmy wishes that it was dessert all the time. By day 28 of the wish everyone is severely obese and gets to the point of rolling around. The extra weight causes the Earth to tilt on its axis and spin towards the sun.
  • JoJo's Circus has characters called the Spudinskis who were anthropomorphic potatoes. In one installment, they became literal couch potatoes, stuck to their couch, and had to be encouraged to exercise.
  • Executive Meddling forced this upon the writers of Kim Possible, and that's how we got "Grande Size Me" (complete with not so subtle Lampshade Hanging).
  • The Germ of the Week on one episode of Ozzy and Drix kidnapped fat cells to Hector's heart to try and give him a heart attack. Hector throws a Spanner in the Works when he goes for a run.
  • American Dragon Jake Long features an episode with a B-plot about Jake becoming lazy and complacent during a period of little magical activity. He quickly begins gorging on junk food and ends up becoming extremely overweight, to the point that even the villains are commenting on his much larger size.
  • Doug did this twice.
    • The first time, in the original Nickelodeon run, Doug spends a week at his grandma's and comes back noticeably heavier. He works hard over the next few weeks to lose the weight, and succeeds, but is depressed because he still looks pudgy. He is somewhat reassured when Judy reminds him that he's always had a pudge.
    • One episode of the Disney run was a Very Special Episode where Patty becomes terrified of this happening to her (to the point that she envisions "fat monsters" chasing girls down the running track and fatifying any girl they catch), and starts to develop anorexia. Her friends are able to snap her out of it before she gets too bad.
  • An early example occurs in The New Adventures of Batman episode "A Sweet Joke on Gotham" where Robin goes undercover to infiltrate Sweet Tooth's gang of teenagers. A plot point is made of how unfit and ill he becomes from living on Sweet Tooth's diet of sweets.
  • "The Greedy" from Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure. But, of course, he lives at the bottom of a dark pit and is actually made of desserts, so what else is he supposed to eat?


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alternative title(s): If It Tastes Good It Must Be Bad For You; Junk Food Is Bad
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