The Politically Incorrect Mom


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Step Away From The Ho-Hos

Here's the latest non-news from CNN - U.S. Waistlines Continue To Grow.

This garbage-passed-off-as-news is nothing short of a commercial for Trust for America's Health, an advocacy group that promotes increased funding for public health programs. Now, there is no doubt that America is getting fatter - that's not news. I can't argue that obesity is one of the leading causes of heart disease and heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in this country - that's not news either.
Here's what I WILL argue with...

CNN's promotion of a liberal organization, by way of reporting their telephone poll findings, so that they can "raise awareness" and get the government and private employers to foot the bill for their recommendations in fighting obesity, such as:

• Employers should offer their workers benefits that help them stay healthy, such as nutrition counseling and subsidized health club memberships.

• The government should mandate routine screenings that measure the fitness of Medicaid beneficiaries, plus subsidize or reimburse them for participating in exercise and fitness programs.

• At the local level, governments should approve zoning and land use laws that give people more chances to walk or bike to the store or to work. Local governments also should set aside more funding for sidewalks.

The writer admits that,

"The group also makes recommendations for individuals. But the recommendations that people eat well and exercise are known to Americans. And clearly, many just don't care to follow. Collins (of the CDC) said tobacco use is another area that could be labeled a personal choice, but government agencies have taken many steps to provide people with the environment and information they need to help them make their choices. The same should be done with obesity." (emphasis mine)

What are they going to do, prohibit the sale of twinkies to anyone under the age of 18?

The article goes on to explain how $5.6 billion could be saved when it comes to treating heart disease if just one-tenth of Americans began a regular walking program. There's no doubt that there would be less heart disease if more people walked, but to suggest that the government sponsorship of more welfare programs that most people won't use can be tied to this $5.6 billion dollar savings is just ludicrous. This estimate of 1/10th is probably extremely high.

I work in healthcare. I see people every day being told to exercise and eat right "or they will die!!!" I know how much personal choice plays a part in people's health. The bottom line is - you can create the most luxurious health spas, free to the public, all on the taxpayer's dollars and if someone isn't motivated to lose weight - you're not getting that box of ho-hos out of their hand.

Another sad truth is this...I'm sick to DEATH of paying (via my insurance premiums) for people's gastric bypass surgeries, simply because they've eaten themselves into a state of "no return" and the insurance companies decide that NOW it's "medically necessary" to pay for. So, I'll be daggoned if I'm going to agree to having my tax dollars reimburse or subsidize people's weightloss programs and healthclub memberships. It doesn't cost a dime to put one foot in front of the other and take a walk around your neighborhood. If you don't live in a ""neighborhood", walk around your house or apartment building. It doesn't have to be a climate controlled, aesthetically pleasing environment - for Pete's sake, it's just exercise! It doesn't cost a dime to do some crunches on your living room floor. It doesn't cost a dime to use the bottom step of your staircase as a "stepper" or better yet - use the stairs instead of the elevator once in a while. The truth is - America is fat...NOT because of some sort of unfortunate series of events. America is fat because America eats too much crap and doesn't exercise.

Back in the springtime I had to take a trip back to the town I grew up in for my uncle's funeral. After the ceremony, a picnic was held at a local park. Now, I love my family - I really do - don't anyone take this the wrong way - but the truth is...I come from a looooooooooong line of fat women. I've been surrounded by them my whole life. Fat people and food. It's in my genes. It's in my blood. It SCARES ME TO DEATH!!! I sat at the picnic and looked around at the large number of overweight people and was reminded that I had put on a few pounds and it threw me into a literal panic. Now, I certainly wasn't crossing the line into obesity, but the way I felt when I left that picnic, I may as well have been one jelly bean away from gastric bypass surgery. I came home from that trip, got back onto a healthy diet and exercise program and promptly took the extra pounds off. Taking a look around at my family was all the motivation I needed. I love them to death - but 30 years from now, I do not want to look into the mirror and see my mother. And you know what? I didn't spend a dime on a health club membership. I walk. It's free. It's easy. It works.

So, here's the skinny (pun intended)...if people are not motivated by health concerns, the embarrassment of not fitting into an airplane seat, having to shop at the chubby store or the sight of their size 18 thighs staring back at them from the mirror - there is NOTHING my tax dollars are going to do to motivate people to get healthy. Many years ago - before I worked in healthcare, I may have been sold on this nonsense, but I've worked around (and I'm related to) people who are sick because they're overweight for too long to believe that government subsidies are the answer to the fat problem in America and I, for one, am not willing to pay for this ridiculous social experiment.


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