Straining under the weight

Obesity is a big problem, but government isn't the solution

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Imagine the federal government of the United States came to your door with a national security problem – and asked you to handle it.

Well, it essentially is.

Obesity has become so common and so chronic that it is now a national health and budget crisis – one that endangers the future strength and vitality of the nation.

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study predicts 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030 (aren’t they already?), and that 10 percent will be morbidly obese – meaning 100 pounds or more overweight (aren’t they already?).

“If these predictions come true, health care costs in the U.S. will increase by well over half a trillion dollars,” says registered dietician Tim Gustafson, writing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Gustafson notes that, technically, only 30 percent are now considered obese, but that 60 percent are classified as having weight problems.

If accurate, these projections paint a picture of an American health-care system, already straining under the weight of our unhealthy lifestyles, having to absorb untold millions more folks with obesity-related maladies, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Even if all these people were as fit as a fiddle, we’d have a demographic problem on our hands – with the baby-boom generation moving into retirement and being supported by a shrinking workforce. The nation is already $100 trillion behind in funding future retirement and senior health care. But weight-related illness will only make matters worse. Much worse.

That we’re facing a growing crisis isn’t the question anymore. The only question is what we’ll do about it.

And who will do it.

Some experts say you are powerless to control your weight, and the government must step in and do it for you.

“The average person cannot maintain a healthy weight in this obesity-promoting environment,” Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika of the Institute of Medicine told Reuters.

That’s just poppycock. But that mentality will be used to encourage government restrictions on the locations of restaurants, the size of community infrastructure and even tax policy, including a surtax on sugary drinks.

If people were that helpless and in need of a government nanny, then obesity would be beyond 30 percent by now.

Certainly we’re fighting societal influences. Restaurants are more ubiquitous today, and their portions big (and controlled by them, not you). They cook up some tasty treats, too, often with the power of cunning cooks in corporate kitchens. They make it so easy and delicious to eat so unhealthy! And then there are the sugary soft drinks they almost throw at you, often in containers so large they resemble gasoline pumps. It’s also enlightening to know what’s in all that stuff.

Can you say “processed foods”?

Yes, of course you can. And you also have the freedom and ability to limit them.

Sorry, CDC and IOM – absent real medical problems, it does come down to willpower. The Greatest Generation has given way to the “Cravingest” Generation. Today’s generations have a lot more culinary temptations than our predecessors, you bet – and more cable channels, video games and websites to lure us away from exercise – but come on. Are we really going to tell the generation that defeated tyranny on both sides of the globe that we can’t defeat doughnuts?

How big a problem is this? As Gustafson notes, obesity-related illness accounts for “about 20 percent of all spending on health care today, about $190 billion annually, not counting rising insurance premiums, lost productivity and missed work days due to illness.”

But while this may be a weighty national security problem, it’s not a government one. No one’s dropping milkshakes out of black U.N. helicopters.

Comments (19) Add comment
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faithson
5134
Points
faithson 05/10/12 - 12:54 am
2
0
If you buy your own food with

If you buy your own food with monies from your labor you make a good point. IF NOT.... and should you be using yours and my taxes to buy your food, now the whole argument has changed. Here is where this 'weighty national security problem' needs to be addressed and should be. A surprising dent in the problem could be made with an intelligent program to help those on the dole buy the proper food.

freeradical
1052
Points
freeradical 05/10/12 - 05:38 am
2
2
America , where the " poor "

America , where the " poor " obese who just are not given a fair shot ,

must get their daily physical fitness from rolling out of bed at 2:00 in

the afternoon and stroll the grocery store asiles adorned in bedroom

shoes , pajama bottoms , carts overflowing with grape soda and

porterhouse steaks .

How long can this go on ?

Is there any doubt this land is condemned ?

copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 05/10/12 - 05:45 am
3
3
These "crisises" are adding

These "crisises" are adding up! WHEN will hussein declare martial law and save us all?

Bizkit
30698
Points
Bizkit 05/10/12 - 06:45 am
4
2
This is why a single payer

This is why a single payer govt maintained system won't work in America-eveyone pays the same and receives the same benefit. This works great with a healthy population but obesity puts too many at risks for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, etc, etc. Further the population at greater risk of obesity are the people on the low end of the socioeconomic spectrum (which seems odd) while the educated wealthier are generally healthier. So now the wealthy healthy will be supporting the bad health and bad choices of the obese. What's fair about that?. You reap what you sow. I smoke cigars on occasion and if I end up with oropharyngeal cancer am I going to blame society for my ills-heck no. I know the risk but take them anyway-like much of life is a calculated risk. But with a single payer system you will all be paying for my expensive surgery, radiation and chemo because I made poor choices. Gosh there is just no reward for success or good health practices so I encourage everyone to pack on another 30-40 lbs and drink and smoke yourselves silly because we are all going to be paying for it so why not enjoy it with all the other poor choicers. We will pick up the pieces later.

FriedFacts
61
Points
FriedFacts 05/10/12 - 07:57 am
0
0
If you follow the western
Unpublished

If you follow the western diet as it moved around the world with its manufactured, processed foods, full of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), you will see how obesity and diabetes follow. America up until about 1965 was a relatively nonobese country. That's when the carbohydrate laden, HFCS foods came onto the scene. The result is obvious.

We consume way too many carbohydrates and the government hasn't explained that to the public with its official recommendations. We are still misguided by all the warnings about fat in the diet. Eat like people did in 1960. Nothing out of a box, no sugary soft drinks and no white bread. Stick to vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and small amounts of fruit. A meal should contain only about 30 carbs that come mainly from vegetables and fruit. This is an important subject.

Please everyone look into what I said.

America and the world need to change their eating habits drastically. That bag of chips and soda on a consistent basis is deadly even if it takes a decade or two to kill you.

Bizkit
30698
Points
Bizkit 05/10/12 - 09:08 am
2
0
One interesting variable for

One interesting variable for obesity maybe our cultural use of antibiotics. Recent evidence indicates the gut flora also determines obesity in mice (besides leptins and specific gene alleles)-they can take fat mice and give them the gut flora from skinny mice and vice versa to alter the mice to the opposite. They believe antibiotics use in domestic animals to aid in weight gain maybe be explained-like beef and chicken= by antibiotics maybe killing the good skinny promoting bacteria leaving the fat promoting bacteria. The hypothesis is this may apply to humans too.

peace4784
115
Points
peace4784 05/10/12 - 09:57 am
0
0
Conservative greed causes obesity
Unpublished

Overweight Americans is no accident. Over eating unhealthy food is a successful marketing strategy by predominately conservative owned and operated businesses. However, the body fat is equally distributed among obese liberals and conservatives. It's less expensive to produce, process, and distribute fat causing food than more healthy food. The drugs and ingredients that is added to processed food has an adverse effect on the human metabolism. Therefore, the pounds just keep adding up. In addition, the 24/7 society in which we live throw the human body out of equiliberium with the natural order. When humans are sleep deprived the body is less efficient. It's just common sense. Bottom line; greedy capitalist want drive there employees 24/7 and damn the human health consequences. Also, gyms are just pacifiers for the gullible. They too exist for profit. 75 percent of go to the gym to work up not to seriously workout. They work up a healthy appetite for the buffet. Lastly, the stress of just living in this cold hearted society is driving many to seek comfort in food and antidepressents. Prozac and Krispy Cremes are trending to replaces dogs as man's best friend.

Jake
32320
Points
Jake 05/10/12 - 10:54 am
0
3
Super Size

While we are on the subject of obesity, did you ever have to fly and be stuck sitting next to a fat person? I did when I recently flew to Augusta and it was not pleasant at all. They kind of just spill out and hog what little room you have. When you are waiting to board a jet you notice the heavy ones and think "I sure hope I don't have to sit next to that one".

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 05/10/12 - 11:25 am
0
0
yeah i don't see how obesity

yeah i don't see how obesity is any worse/ better than smoking. tax that pepsi/golden corral trip to the hilt. good for the goose, good for the gander. whatever. (authoritarian) government is out of control

Jake
32320
Points
Jake 05/10/12 - 01:01 pm
0
2
Just venting

soapy, The wing option would have been better. At least I could have stretched out. I don't mind sitting next to large people if there is enough room so we don't have to touch. Who wants to be rubbing against someone for 5 hours unless it is a member of the opposite sex with outstanding physical qualities and, of course, a brilliant mind (well, scratch the mind part).

Jake
32320
Points
Jake 05/10/12 - 01:07 pm
0
2
Being Healthy

My wife is a Physician Assistant and our dinner conversation usually includes the difficult cases in the OR that she was involved in that day. Almost all of the lengthy and troublesome cases have two common factors, obesity and diabetes.

AutumnLeaves
7025
Points
AutumnLeaves 05/10/12 - 02:34 pm
0
1
Walking

Well, this is a reminder to get off the computer, get out today and take another walk. First day in weeks the pollen count is low enough for allergy sufferers. Now if the smoke from that controlled burn at Fort Gordon will blow away from us, the temperature, breeze, and humidity are perfect for walking. Enjoy the good air quality while we have it AND it is a visual delight of a day!

socks99
250
Points
socks99 05/10/12 - 03:03 pm
0
0
There is an element of truth

There is an element of truth in the CDC's revelation, but it's unlikely the obese and their doctors failed to recognize it earlier. If anything, the public ought realize that large multinational organizations such as the CDC are both describing the problem and offering-up suggestions for solving it. Those solutions, of course, come with a big price. And they will radically empower their bureaucracy with more staff and funding. The CDC and the public health system, generally, ought to be reset to mitigate routine matters of public health; and it should not be allowed to simply come-up with its own snake-oil prescriptions for imagined maladies simply as a way to promote its own power and budget.

Conservative Man
5430
Points
Conservative Man 05/10/12 - 03:53 pm
0
0
I've often thought of the

I've often thought of the irony of food "banks" and food "deserts" in a country that is becoming more and more obese by the day...

Bizkit
30698
Points
Bizkit 05/10/12 - 05:17 pm
1
1
Hey since the low

Hey since the low socioeconomic population are more likely to be obese we can give them food stamps that will only buy healthy food choices-behavior modification. If they get fat from breaking their diet then they lose their stamps. Drug testing and diet should shape up the population. Perfect govt answer isn't it??????

smokeysbandit
257
Points
smokeysbandit 05/10/12 - 07:47 pm
0
0
Hey Soapy

Hey Soapy...don't forget the "free" wheelchair to roll 'em out to the van!

Bizkit
30698
Points
Bizkit 05/10/12 - 10:24 pm
0
1
Well I gotta better idea. How

Well I gotta better idea. How bout put a bounty on people who are morbidly obese-get tags like them Swamp gator boys. Go out and dart em and tag em, then ship off to the fat farm for rendering. Either obesity will disappear or we will evolve olympic champion fat people-super atheletes-look like Vasily Alekseyev-remember him in 70s. Maybe the fat we render we can use to make biodiesel and help become energy independent. You can be technically overweight and still be in great shape with daily exercise, etc. I look healthier about 10 lbs above what my weight should be by BMI but the emaciated look is supposedly healthier..

KSL
126363
Points
KSL 05/10/12 - 09:48 pm
0
0
To think that I tried my

To think that I tried my darnedest to gain weight when I was in high school, college, and first married.

Bizkit
30698
Points
Bizkit 05/10/12 - 11:02 pm
0
0
Well I'm pretty small about

Well I'm pretty small about 3-4 foot tall but I gotta a lot of weight in my huge bulbous head with big black insect like eyes. Gravity here is a little different from my planet but overall I can't complain. Fat people are worshipped on my planet. That's why I came here looking for fat people to worship and I was about to give up but found America-land of the plenty. Too bad I'm gonna have to render a few fat people to make enough biodiesel to get my ship back to my planet. But I plan to capture some of the local fat fauna to show my people how I've discovered America and a renewable resource.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 05/10/12 - 11:47 pm
0
0
My wife works in a Port-a-potty cleaning business
Unpublished

We generally have long converstions about how the writings on the walls resemble many of the posters....I mean postings here.

KSL
126363
Points
KSL 05/11/12 - 08:59 pm
0
0
faithson, as to your first

faithson, as to your first comment. I would change "help" to require.

KSL
126363
Points
KSL 05/11/12 - 09:03 pm
0
0
Biz, "render." That's pretty

Biz, "render." That's pretty funny!

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