WASHINGTON, DC–Despite repeated warnings from federal officials not to eat too much before their entree arrives, an alarming 89 percent of U.S. citizens filled up on bread Monday, leaving them too full to enjoy the rest of their meal.
"Paying little heed to the many cautionary announcements we have issued, the American people have stuffed themselves with dinner rolls and, as a result, have no room for their soup or salad, much less their main course," said U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala. "America, look at your plates: They've hardly even been touched."
According to a Health and Human Services report, an unprecedented two billion pounds of uneaten sides were trucked away from U.S. dinner tables, including 150 million pounds of mashed potatoes, 200 million pounds of stuffing, and 450 million pounds of steamed carrots. What's worse, HHS officials said, Americans discarded nearly 300 million choice cuts of meat which is the most expensive part and has all the protein–without taking much more than a bite.
"America must learn that filling up on bread beforehand is just foolish, because then you can't enjoy your meal," the report read. "Sure, they give you plenty of bread. But then you can't eat the food you paid good money for. That's how they get you."
The HHS report has provoked strong reaction from appetite-conservation activists nationwide.
"For decades, excessive and unregulated pre-meal bread consumption has been the number-one threat to the U.S. appetite," said Hannah Dowling, author of the bestselling Saving Some Room For Later. "Despite decades of awareness-raising efforts on the part of appetite conservationists, filling up on bread remains the leading cause of leaving the dinner table early for Americans in the 7- to 64-year-old age group, and the second-leading cause for citizens over 65."
According to Dowling, even the seemingly harmless dinner-table presence of such food-service hospitality items as individually wrapped breadsticks and Saltine-brand crackers can pose a threat to Americans' hunger.
"Many people, conditioned to expect instant satisfaction in our convenience-obsessed society, lack even the simplest mealtime gratification-delay skills–skills which, in generations past, children were expected to have mastered by age 5 or 6," Dowling said. "As a result, presented with unlimited access to fresh bread, bread sticks, and crackers–not to mention the ubiquitous packets of butter and alliterative butter substitutes such as Country Crock and Shedd's Spread–the American eater is like the proverbial horse that, left unsupervised, will gorge itself until it dies."
"Remember," Dowling added, "bread expands once it gets in your stomach, and then you feel full even when you're not."
In a recent U.N. study, the U.S. ranked last in the world in appetite-preservation skills. The average American, the study found, was only able to maintain an empty stomach for three minutes before sating his or her hunger. Standing in sharp contrast is Botswana, whose citizenry ranked first, able to preserve their appetites for an average of more than seven months.
"The problem of appetite spoilage has reached epidemic proportions here in America," Shalala said. "No other country is as bad at staying hungry as we are."
Shalala said major changes are in order in the wake of the latest HHS report.
"If we can't control ourselves with the bread, we'll have to face hard facts and accept that we're just not going to have any room for pie later," Shalala said. "And nobody, regardless of our partisan political differences, wants a tragedy like that."