“You want to be a member of the Clean Plate Club don’t you?” Mother would demand as I attempted to vacate the kitchen with food remaining on my plate.

This was during a time when the ravages of war still remained in Europe and Asia following World War II. Mother would proceed to describe how less fortunate children were eating out of garbage cans, while I was turning up my nose at a lump of limp spinach.

She had such a powerful way of painting the picture. In my mind’s eye, I could see those poor little children digging in garbage cans for a few miserable scraps.

Mom’s plan usually worked. I would close my eyes and force the remaining spinach down my throat, even though I doubted if those children were rummaging through garbage cans in search of spinach.

Not only did it work on me, it also worked on my children. Sharon and I often made a big deal out of them eating everything on their plate. I believe we even went so far as offering a reward of a special dessert.

Well, that was a long time ago – back in the 20th century. Today, “Clean your plate” is not good advice to give your children. At least that’s what the experts say.

It isn’t that the experts want your children (or grandchildren) to walk away from the table undernourished, it’s that we Americans have a weight problem and its being passed on down to our children.

Gone are the days when a chunky little kid was considered to be the picture of health. In today’s world, according to those who are supposed to be in the know, a chunky little kid is probably going to grow into a chunky adult. That chunky adult could eventually end up with cancer, heart problems, diabetes or any number of health problems.

And one of the main causes of the problems is his or her weight.

Now before we try to place the blame on our mother’s (or father’s) shoulders, a few things must be taken into account.

Number one, I would say, is the fact it isn’t the spinach or peas that are causing the problem. It’s more the french fries or chips.

Number two, Mom probably doesn’t have that much to say about what her kids are eating because we don’t eat at home much anymore.

That’s right. The majority of Americans eat out more often than at home. That’s the reason the outskirts of our cities are lined with fast food joints.

All-you-can-eat and super-size seem to be the slogans that attract today’s diners. It’s hard to find a restaurant that doesn’t pride itself on the huge portions it offers.

And how many of us sit and enjoy our meals? Not many. Most of us either get the food to go or gulp it down as fast as possible so that we might go on to other things – such as finding another eatery that specializes in desserts.

So there you have it. We Americans are overweight because we have too much food to eat and not enough time to eat it properly.

I realize there are many places on this very Earth where such a problem is only a dream. People go to bed hungry every night, while we have citizens undergoing surgery to shrink their stomachs.

So what do we do? Eat less would be the best advice, but that ís easier said than done. There is another old saying Mother would occasionally toss at me when I would come back for a second helping of roast beef: “Eat to live; don’t live to eat.”

Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.