Oh, the Fat Tax. That tempest in a Big Gulp cup.
The debate is flaring up faster than a hunk of bacon in a skillet set on high.
OK, enough with the analogies.
Americans are on the heavy side. Plenty are fat, obese, chunky, chubby, you name it.
I admit, I’m no sylph myself.
And yes, losing weight has its benefits. Good for the heart, good for the back, the knees, the lungs, and so on. But I don’t agree with penalizing a pant size. It’s negative reinforcement, and that never works out in a good way. It just makes you bitter. Or worse.
There are plenty of things that can be done to at least try to make Americans healthier. That’s what is important. And I don’t think you can judge by only what number shows up on the scale.
You can be a 5’6″, 120-pound lady who never eats vegetables, never walks, drinks three cocktails a night and smokes two packs a day. Or you can be a 5’6″, 200-pound lady who walks two miles a day, gets five servings of fruit and vegetables every day, never drinks, never smokes. Out of those two, who comes across as healthier? We know lack of exercise and cancer sticks are bad, but take these ladies in and have them screened. Who has normal blood pressure? Whose cholesterol is at a healthy level? Whose blood sugars are in the safe range? Aren’t those numbers at least as important as the one on the scale? Shouldn’t healthy behavior be encouraged?
How about weight-loss programs? Now, I’m not talking about a fat-burner shake two times a day, or a zero-fat diet, or only eating cabbage soup. I’m thinking sensible stuff here.
Weight Watchers, for example, encourages a healthier lifestyle. You weigh in, you meet, you share, discuss, get ideas, vent, and are encouraged to exercise and eat right. And they give you menus and recipes to guide you. And as a member, you could go to three meetings a day, six days a week, if you wanted to or needed to.
Now, Weight Watchers isn’t expensive to join, but it’s not dirt-cheap either. A few years ago I had HAP for health insurance, and they funded WW membership up to a certain amount of time, maybe four or five 12-week sessions at $25 a piece, which capped out after a while. It is a great idea. People at my office signed up, and we all began to shrink together. Quite a deal, especially since people are getting more and more stressed out at work, and many of us seek comfort in the vending machines on a hectic day.
I know people who, once the WW/HAP initiative expired, didn’t feel comfortable budgeting a higher-priced weight-loss program. If you pay $25 for 12-week membership, and then it goes up to, say, $100 or more for 12 weeks, a lot of people don’t want to pay that. Some people can’t.
But how about an initiative like that, where the health insurance foots part of the bill for encouraging people to seek healthier lifestyles? And giving a discount to continue with the program.
Hell, even make it required to lose, say, five pounds in 12 weeks to be able to renew at the discounted rate. Or have the doctor’s office fax the results of a physical to the insurer. Blood pressure down? Cholesterol in check? Your diet program is working. Keep it up and enjoy your discounted rate!
Wouldn’t it be cheaper in the long run to help people get healthy now instead of paying for it later?
Sounds like a deal to me.