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Grateful for that coffee cake

A six-year survey by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control recently reported that more Americans are overweight than ever. They eat too much and exercise too little, and the result is: America, the home of the Free and the Fat.

Now comes the Economist, a British news magazine, to add a twist to the story. Americans not only are eating more, it says, but more of them are saying grace before meals _ about 63 percent, compared to 43 percent in 1947. But there is something about this the magazine finds baffling.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests that fewer and fewer Americans are sitting down to communal meals with their families," it said. "Which suggests a subversive thought: The startling rise in grace-saying probably reflects an equivalent rise in the number of meals taken daily by grazing individuals, who are merely thanking God that there is still some coffee cake left in the fridge."

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