Sugarmama posted about a new law attempting to regulate obesity in this post. I started to answer with a comment, but then it started getting really long-winded (you know how I can get!). So I’ll just respond below.
What Sugarmama did was offer her version of the solution to the problem. Some of her ideas are actually good ones (now if she could just get the Gov-mint to listen to her!). But, since I’ve now been trained at fisking by the master himself, I’ll attempt once more to do so now with her suggestions.
- require all fast food restaurants to eliminate super size portions from their menus [This won’t work; the fat person will just get two (or three, or ten) regular-size portions; where there’s a will, there’s a way.]
- require fast food restaurants to reduce the amount of fat in ALL of their menu items by 40-50% [I think that was tried with Olean once, but consumers rejected it, and they’ll probably do so again.]
- require fast food restaurants to have 33% of their menu items as low fat choices (i.e. under 6 grams of fat) [This assumes a fat person WANTS to diet. A lot of the time, this is simply not the case; the fat person would then simply order his meal comprised of the other 66% of the menu items.]
- subsidize gym memberships [Yeah, right along with the subsidized CHEESE they’re scarfing down. I cannot see this as a solution. I paid three years in advance for a membership at — shit, I don’t even know the name of it anymore — but I went three times to use their lap pools. Then I moved way across town and I just wouldn’t go. I wasn’t motivated, not even by the $59.17 a month (now THAT I remember) paying each month for 36 months. I teased about showing up over there one day to avail myself of my $3,000 workout! Now a TAX DEDUCTION for such items would be nice; that way, the people that truly wanted it would be able to get a break. Leave the rest of us slobs to our couches and cartons of ice cream!! Which brings me to her next excellent point…]
- make the cost of gym memberships, workout programs, yoga classes, aerobics classes, personal training, weight loss programs, etc. tax deductible [Now this sounds like a great idea to me!]
- create a free public access television channel devoted entirely to fitness and dietary habits [No one is gonna tear themselves away from the latest episodes of South Park, Survivor or American Idol long enough to watch those. And we have enough infomercials touting Nautilus, and all those silly fat burning belts and other devices; my eyes glaze over at the mere thought.]
- require health care insurers to cover PREVENTATIVE medical care [Another excellent idea; but the insurance companies just won’t go for it. Even though I’m sure it can be proven over and over that it is cheaper in the long run to stop some lifestyle-driven diseases (e.g., diabetes, gout) at their onset rather than later on, when the damages is done and the disease becomes chronic, and often fatal. ]
- subsidize or pay for neighborhood programs for children to play sports [As long as this doesn’t require a lot of parental interaction. Too many parents seem to be content (or just too busy to do otherwise) to leave their children sitting in front of a television, a Playstation or a computer. I have heard mention that Type II diabetes is at an all time high among children under 15. And this is directly attributable to the increased sedentary lifestyle children are now leading. I remember as a kid running around in the yard, up and down the street, and coming in to eat ONLY after it started getting dark and my mother had to holler several times to get me in. Now, you can’t blast me out of the house!]
- make obese people pay more income taxes [She was only kidding about this one, but if you can find a way to tax high fat items…. That doesn’t mean I won’t still buy them. But perhaps the proceeds from these taxes can go not into the pockets of the insurance companies but toward research and cures for diseases such as diabetes…. Ah, I’m dreaming too!]
I believe the health insurance industry should think long and hard about paying for more preventive health care procedures for everyone. You know the old saying, an ounce of prevention…. They THINK they are saving money by denying coverage for some preventive procedures, but in the long run they — oops, I mean, WE — pay for it when diseases (which might otherwise have been prevented) strike. Insurance has always been a business; medicine has become one…. the patient (and his/her well-being) plays second fiddle to the bottom line.
On the other end of the scale, though, we have not only the greedy, self-serving insurance companies, but the “quick payoff at the courthouse” plaintiffs who sue at the drop of a hat (or scalpel). This has especially become a problem in the Rio Grande Valley where medical malpractice insurance premiums have skyrocketed to the point that a lot of doctors are refusing to operate except in the cases of emergencies.
As I’ve commented before, extremes of either kind, be it too fat or too thin, are not healthy. One’s own overall health can only be determined on an individual basis. Attempts to regulate or manage it across the board, as has been attempted with drinking and to some extent smoking (I assume since these pose health and safety risks for those other than the individual himself) will fail.
My own attempts at diet and exercise throughout life have failed and I observe now that during the most miserable time in my life (right after my mother’s death), I was a sveldt size 12. But I was utterly miserable. My weight has always hovered near the size 18-20 area and a bit beyond at times. I do not consider myself unattractive. But I do know that I’m fat (as Camryn said, “Wake up, I’m fat!”). And as much as I’d like to see health care benefits to HELP those struggling with weight problems, I do not think those that really need them will get them or will even want them if they did become available.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink the SlimFast.