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A Weighty Aesop

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"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?
I don't like the look of it."

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 glorify 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Often brought up in The Fat Episode.

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

Contrast Balloon Belly, Temporary Bulk Change, Fat and Proud 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). Also contrast Be Yourself if a character slimming down has a negative effect on their character or they're not doing so except to please someone who otherwise would value them less. See also Diet Episode. Compare Disease-Prevention Aesop, Missed Meal Aesop, Sleep Aesop, and Anti-Alcohol Aesop for more health-related Aesops.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya! has an episode entitled "Fitness Fiend", which has Dedede obtaining potato chips designed to be very addictive and to cause the consumer to increase in size by a great deal. Unfortunately, he ends up falling victim to their effect, along with Kirby, forcing him and Kirby to lose the weight with the monster Max Flexer (granted, that was their original goal, minus Dedede also being forced to).
  • Pokémon: The Series has a Diet Episode in which Clemont's Chespin spends almost all its screen-time eating, mostly behind his back. Consequently, Chespin gains so much weight that it can't put up a fight.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt has "The Diet Syndrome", where after eating endless sweets to her heart's content without fear of gaining weight, Stocking goes on a diet and exercise frenzy when she finds she's gotten heavier. After becoming inhumanly obese, Stocking discovers that her desserts have been tainted by the powers of a ghost, and only returns to her normal self after the ghost is destroyed. Stocking then returns to her sweets, choosing not to sweat over a little extra weight.
  • Full Metal Panic! Overload had a chapter where Kaname was trying to get into shape for swimsuit season, but her methods included skipping meals and other unhealthy behaviors. Sosuke notices this and offers to help her, then turns into a Drill Sergeant Nasty until she finally realizes how dangerous it was and she adopts more reasonable exercise and diet measures.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Season 2 episode 40 of Boonie Cubs, Briar and Bramble meet a wild goose named Bob who wants to fly with the other geese, but can't due to the potato crisps he's been eating making him too fat to fly. This is used to teach a lesson about eating healthy foods, and Bob gets the lesson and promises to do a better job at eating healthy by the end of the episode.

    Comic Books 
  • Cuori Grassi: Subverted. In each issue, Rocco comes to the epiphany that he ought to eat healthier foods, do some exercise, and lose more than a few pounds. This sends him to some sort of diet or hare-brained scheme. Yet, come the end of the storyline, he succumbs to the temptation presented by fatty or high-carb foods.

    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.
  • In Osmosis Jones, Frank is shown as having a very unhealthy lifestyle despite the constant urging of his daughter to shape up. He finally begins to take his health seriously after a brush with death.
  • "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?

    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 

  • The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food is Exactly What It Says on the Tin – all the Bears save Mama end up eating too much junk food, and it takes a visit to the doctor to Scare 'Em Straight. Ironically, some people have noted that said junk food is highly colorful and delectable.
  • Augustus Gloop, of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, cares about nothing but eating junk food and is morbidly obese. While loving candy is portrayed as a normal and good thing through most of the book, Augustus takes it to a bad extreme, and his greed in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Room leads to Laser-Guided Karma for him.
  • The Goosebumps novel Attack of the Jack-O'Lanterns presents this in Space Whale Aesop format. Near the end the man-eating aliens warn the kids not to eat too much candy, or they'll end up as dessert some day.
  • Leopold The Lion has the eponymous lion turn from a lively, joyous circus performer to a chubby, sedentary, and depressed feline when Jack and Ella, who find him, keep him in a small bedroom and feed him loads of junk food. He turns back to his former self when they feed him a healthy lion diet and bring him to the backyard to exercise. Fortunately, unlike other examples, the Aesop is delivered subtly and requires some interpretation to fish it out.
  • In Peter Pan, Captain Hook devises a devious plan to murder Peter and the Lost Boys with an enormous, delicious cake, reasoning that the plan can't fail because the children don't have any mother to warn them about this trope. Unfortunately for Hook, the boys have just acquired Wendy, who warns them that the cake is far too damp and rich to be good for them. (Note that in the book, unlike in the musical, the cake isn't even poisoned—it's just too darn decadent for children. Hook treats this as if it will surely kill them.)

    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). Raven doesn’t realize how bad this is until she has a vision of everyone, herself included, becoming obese, and she and Chelsea set out 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:
  • LazyTown is an entire show based around this trope. The main hero is empowered by healthy food and exercise, while junk food is his Kryptonite Factor.

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    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • 6teen: In "Girlie Boys", Caitlin gets a job at a candy store where she's allowed to gorge on free chocolate as much as she wants, and quickly does so despite having heard of someone else gaining 25 lbs. from the same job. She later learns the hard way what her snacking is doing to her waist when she can't fit in a new pair of jeans.
  • An episode of Adventure Time had the main characters become obese over its course of events. At the end of the episode, Jake just morphs the fat away. Finn, of course, is not as lucky (except he's back to normal by the next episode, so maybe he is).
  • American Dad! subverts this trope in "The American Dad After School Special". After it's pointed out that he's put on some weight, Stan takes it to extremes and tries to get as skinny as possible. At first it looks like Haley and Francine are trying to sabotage him by putting fat in his diet food as payback for banning Steve from seeing his fat girlfriend Debbie, but in a twist, it's revealed they're trying to get him to put on weight because he's suffering from anorexia and is actually so thin, you can see his skeleton.
  • 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.
  • Arthur: "Arthur Weighs In" is about Arthur freaking out over becoming "husky" (despite not looking any fatter than usual).
  • Big City Greens does this with the episode "Fast Foodie". A new Burger Clown opens where Big Coffee stood, and Cricket makes a wager with Bill that he and Tilly can eat there all the time for every meal with no side effects. He ends up becoming a massive roly-poly while Tilly becomes violently ill; despite this, he won't stop eating the burgers until he gets stuck in the play place slide and Bill reminds him if he should be there the rest of his life. It is that point he learns his lesson and vows never to eat Burger Clown food all the time again, but Bill gets stuck as well, causing the restaurant to be closed down. Cricket is not sad, however, as not having his favorite restaurant next door is for the best.
  • The Boondocks: The episode "The Itis" is about Ed Wuncler I helping Robert Freeman with starting a new restaurant called The Itis. The Itis, which serves extremely unhealthy and addictive soul food, causes the surrounding neighborhood to turn into a slum plagued by obesity, poverty, and crime. Besides eating habits themselves, it's a more general satire of following your heritage even at the expense of your health.
  • Doug does 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.
  • The Fairly OddParents! has the episode "Just Desserts!", in which Timmy wishes for dessert all the time. By day 28 of the wish, everyone is severely obese, to the point of rolling around. The extra weight causes the Earth to tilt on its axis and spin towards the sun. Somehow.
  • The Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids episode "Junk Food" sees Albert and Slim, after a serious junk-food binge, meet up with a dentist who tells them the value of diet and exercise. Albert takes the advice seriously, while Slim blows it off. In a change from this trope's usual trappings, Albert doesn't suddenly lose a lot of weight (it's kind of impossible when "Fat" is in your character's name); what does happen is that he finds himself doing a lot better at sports due to being in better shape and having more energy. Slim, on the other hand, ends up suffering a serious sugar crash and a number of stomach issues. The episode seems rather far-seeing in its Aesop not of "Thin is better" but of "Better nutrition means better health regardless of size".
  • Subverted in an episode of Home Movies in which Brandon and Jason become overweight from overindulgence in junk food and decide they've become "fat enablers"; when they're apart they drop the weight just fine, but when they spend time together, they revert to their old overindulging ways. It's subverted because at the end of the episode they decide that their friendship is more important to them than their weight, they rope Melissa into joining them to become morbidly obese, and they make a series of movie parodies like "Fat Club." Then they're back to normal in the next episode.
  • 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 Magic Key: In “HMS Sweet Tooth”, Biff’s inability to resist the allure of chocolate ends up getting her and her friends attacked by pirates (It Makes Sense in Context). By the end of the episode, she’s learned to be more moderate.
  • 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 Germ of the Week in one episode of Ozzy & 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.
  • Phineas and Ferb: "Candace's Big Day" has the Doof and Perry plot involving Doof creating an inator that adds high amounts of grease to food, because he is trying to remain healthy. Unfortunately, he dips all his broccoli in the inator and immediately gains a Balloon Belly and develops acne.
  • Puppy in My Pocket: Adventures in Pocketville has episode "Food for Thought" where a girl named Molly refuses to eat anything but sweets despite her parents convincing her to eat healthier foods. Kate and Magic go to Pocketville to find a pet who could teach her to eat healthy foods, and they find Goldie, a hamster chef known for cooking healthy foods that smell like sweet treats at the Bear Inn. After Goldie is sent to Molly through the Friendship Ceremony, she takes a bite out of an apple at a market to get Molly to do the same. This works, with Molly saying that an apple tastes better than a cake.
  • Seven Little Monsters: "You Are What You Eat" has the moral revolve around the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and to never overeat. After hearing about a pie-eating contest, Four gets the idea to train his brother Five by having him eat only pie, while Four eats Five's meals in the interim of the training so that none of Five's food goes to waste while he focuses on eating pie. The consequences of this exercise are that Five becomes severely addicted to pie in spite of the health problems he's gained from subsisting only on pie and Four becomes very fat, with their siblings the other five monsters helping them get back into shape by feeding them the gigantic vegetables they recently grew and having them exercise.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Zig-zagged in "King-Size Homer" where Homer purposely gains weight to the point of weighing over 300 pounds because it would make him legally disabled, thus he can work from home and never have to physically go to work. A moment later, he gets a warning from the power plant that there will be a meltdown if the problem is not taken care of right now. Homer races to the source and winds up plugging up the hole with his enlarged rear, which somehow stops the threat. Homer realizes that if had he not gained excessive weight, he would have fallen to his death, which Lisa ironically remarks as well. Homer then decides he has to lose weight so Marge would not be turned off by his body anymore. Mr. Burns tries to get Homer to exercise, but gives up after seeing Homer is too fat to do a proper sit up and decides to just get him liposuction.
    • "Sweets and Sour Marge" has the town declared as the fattest town in America. This greatly concerns Marge and she manages to convince other people to enforce a ban on sugar so that everyone can start eating healthier. Naturally, people resist to the point of smuggling sugar prohibition style. Status Quo Is God kicks in at the end where Marge eventually gives up and lets people indulge in their sugar cravings.
    • In "The Heartbroke Kid", after Principal Skinner signs a contract with a vending machine company sponsored by hip-hop artists to allow them to sell their products at the school, Bart becomes greatly hooked on the excessively unhealthy snacks and consumes them frequently, which results in him growing considerably obese and developing a serious addiction toward junk food. One day, he suffers a heart attack and is taken to the hospital, where an X-ray scan reveals there are three malted milk balls clogging his arteries and a wad of Laffy Taffy stuck on his liver. Bart is put on a diet, but, when his addiction is too severe, the entire family and a few Springfieldians stage an intervention and send the boy to Serenity Ranch, a rather expensive weight-loss camp led by Tab Spangler, a fitness guru voiced by Albert Brooks. Bart ultimately overcomes his addiction after Tab shows him the sacrifices his family is making to afford the camp's bills (namely turning the house into a youth hostel for a bunch of rude German students), whereupon he goes back to the school, smashes the vending machines apart and recovers the money he spent on them to bring it back to his family.
    • In "Walking Big & Tall", the characters learn that there is no such thing as a perfect body image, being obese and underweight carry health problems that can turn fatal. Albert was right about protesting a shop that promoted impossible and anorexic body images, but he still died of a heart attack caused by overeating. You shouldn't promote or shame either body type, but you still need to consider either yours or their health.
  • The first season finale of Smiling Friends combined this with an Anti-Escapism Aesop. When Charlie dies and is sent to Hell, he's tasked with cheering up Satan in order to earn his life back. When he meets him he sees that he's become a typical Basement-Dweller, spending his time with video games, junk food, and weed instead of managing Hell. The show focuses less on the physical detriment of such a lifestyle and more on the mental aspect, as Charlie points out that he's making himself depressed through a cycle of short-term dopamine rushes. He breaks out of his funk after Charlie inadvertently helps him remember how much he enjoys (after)life's simple pleasures... like human suffering.
  • Defied in an episode of Super Mario World (1991). King Koopa opens a fast food restaurant and the cave people become hooked on their food. Only Mario, Luigi and Yoshi are shown to have gained weight, then the episode turns into a Space Whale Aesop where the victims of Koopa's food turn into Chickadactyls.
  • Sushi Pack: In "Sweet Tooth", Wasabi is out of shape from eating candy bars, which are falsely claimed to be full of nutrition. They actually have less than zero percent nutritional value. With help from Kani and Ikura, Wasabi is back to normal.

Alternative Title(s): If It Tastes Good It Must Be Bad For You, Junk Food Is Bad


Scaredy Squirrel

Golly, that's sure a lot of fat in one single nut bar!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / NutritionalNightmare

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