General chatter - Obesity expense

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07-28-2009, 12:23 AM

You would think the government could come up with a way to reward those who maintain a healthy BMI.There has to be an answer?
Any thoughts?

07-28-2009, 01:08 AM
The problem with the "reward for healthy BMI" is that, as we've discussed in some previous threads recently, BMI isn't applicable to everyone. I can live my healthy lifestyle all I want, with all the healthy habits in the world, and I will never be at a normal BMI without sacrificing my stamina and muscle mass. Neither will most really muscular, athletic people...but a LOT of unfit people who don't exercise and have high body fat percentages will, because their muscle mass is low...BMI doesn't record the difference between fat and muscle. It's just...weight.

Honestly, I do think there's an answer, but it's less about rewarding people who are at a healthy weight (which could be due to healthy habits or due to being inactive and having low muscle mass with NO healthy habits), and more about giving incentives and subsidies to encourage healthier habits. Maybe that means subsidizing different agriculture industries, to encourage the growing of straight-to-table crops like fruits and veggies, instead of corn and soybeans that go straight into processed food and animal feed. Maybe that means encouraging inner-city stores to stock more fruits and veggies by including them on things like WIC food lists and the link, because those stores are the only places many people have access to for food shopping. It may mean providing safe spaces for families to have physical activity, even in inner cities, at reduced costs (after all, walking as a family is free, but not really an option if you're worried you're going to get shot).

I think that subsidies to make healthy food cheaper and more easily accessible, a more than verbal commitment to nutrition in schools (lunch program, anyone?), and other incentives to develop healthy habits will go much further than a payout to folks who may or may not have healthy habits to go with their normal BMI.

07-28-2009, 05:02 AM
I think both the article and mandalinn have great points. That's a really tall order though, don't ya think? Especially this one in the article: "Creating safe communities that support physical activity". That kinda got me. Oh yeah, safe communities, why didn't we think about that before? Piece of cake. As if safe communities aren't a good idea without obesity as a factor.:dizzy:

Sorry, not trying to be a downer or anything, but I think most non-obese people, from what I've seen in op-ed pieces and such, are NOT very supportive of any kind of incentives to help people lose weight. Start a topic like that in any non-weight-loss forum and I guarantee you'll here tripe like this:

"Great! Now we have to spend our hard-earned tax dollars because all these fat ***es can't control themselves?! Why don't we just staple their mouth shut. I'll gladly pitch in to buy a box of staples."

I only know that because I've literally seen that before.

Also, I notice that all of the six categories listed in that article are "support or encourage", which personally, I don't think will really does the trick in the long run. There's a lot of evidence, for instance, that D.A.R.E. programs don't really curb drug use, or that abstinence-only programs curb premarital sex. Government-sponsored "encouragement" can't really take the place of solid parenting and personal, internal commitment (wherever that comes from).

07-28-2009, 07:44 AM
are NOT very supportive of any kind of incentives to help people lose weight. Start a topic like that in any non-weight-loss forum and I guarantee you'll here tripe like this:

When I saw this story last night on the news I thought here we go. We start talking about universal health care and suddenly we are focusing on how to cut health care costs on the backs of the obese.

It is my feeling that the obese -- generally -- are involuntarily obese. And if we want to cut costs we have to stop *blaming the victim* and accept that there is some physical / food / environmental cause -- find them and fix them. I saw an article in my local paper yesterday where some diet guy says that Oprah is the most delusional dieter ever and needs to learn discipline. I was stunned by that. Are you telling me the Oprah, god of the media, doesn't have discipline? The article was all about it is easy to diet, eat less and exercise more. When are we going to accept, I mean really accept, that isn't the solution for everyone.

For instance, recently I saw an article that says that vitamin D could increase weight loss. There is something that is a lead on how so many of us could be obese. Not to mention what Vitamin D could do for diabetes and cancer. Plus Oprah being dark skinned and inside all day long, may be deficient.

For instance I think that employment has to accept that they are only cutting their own throats by not allowing people to get substantial time to work out and get sun.

But so often this problem is blamed on the individual because that is easier for all involved. No one has to change what they want to do.

07-28-2009, 11:16 AM
I have 3 boys.2 are driving.We get a discount on our car insurance if they maintain a certain grad point average-incentive.
We also get a discount on our life insurance for not smoking-incentive.
Money talks.Right?What kind of incentive could the government provide to promote healthy living?A discount on our health care would be great imho!
Mandalinn has great ideas.

07-28-2009, 01:43 PM
A discount on our health care would be great imho!

Incentives are good. The problem is, they can reward people who don't really do anything to earn them. Let's take the grades example - I was a smart kid who did NOT apply myself. My GPA was not a factor of my being responsible, it was a factor of me doing just BARELY enough to get the grades I needed and not giving a darn the rest of the time. So I got that "good student" discount, but never really earned it in any sense. The problem is making the incentive on the outcome only (grades, weight, etc), rather than on the good behaviors. There are a ton of kids who get good grades without trying due to no more than genetic luck and other things beyond their control, and there are a ton of people of normal weight who really don't DO the work to stay there. I don't know that those people should be rewarded.

I'd love to see insurance providers incentivize (no/very low copay) visits to nutritionists and fitness centers, and reward (lower insurance rate) participation in some kind of formal program for exercise and diet (maybe it would consist of weekly nutritionist visits, biweekly visits to a fitness center, etc). Give people the information and feedback to eat well, and encourage safe exercise, with an incentive.

07-28-2009, 01:53 PM
The hospital where I work at has a free yearly health review. You get free lab work, waist measurement, body fat analysis, BP check and you fill out a questionairre. You also write down 3 health related goals at the time of your assessment. Last year we got $100 off our health insurance premiums if you did the review and met one of your goals. It was a great incentive to get people to do the health reviews. I think we had to have an annual flu shot too. They posted articles in our monthly work newsletter about people who were motivated by the results of their lab work or health assessment results to make healthy lifestyle changes. Some found out they had hypertension or pre-diabetes and were able to reduce their risks. The staff that does the health assessments goes out to the workplace and does these too, so I wish more employers would offer this to their employees.

07-28-2009, 02:45 PM
I know of at least one country where a private health care company offer free gym memberships, but you have to go at least 11 times a month. You also get free movie tickets once a month and lots of vouchers if you go. They also give you discounts if you attend fun runs (5K and 10K) etc.

They encourage healthy living but don't look at the scale.

07-28-2009, 06:03 PM
Another interesting article about this topic from USA today.

07-28-2009, 07:03 PM
I think rewarding people for having a healthy BMI is totally unfair. I watch my calories, count everything, exercise, and so on, but I'm obese according to the BMI.

My hubby on the other hand eats crap, doesn't even know how to count calories, and never works out- but he's at a healthy BMI- how fair is that?

I don't go to the gym because I can't afford it- I have a treadmill I paid $100 for and a few free weights I paid like $20 for. That's all I use and all I can afford. But if there were a program that would pay for me to go to the nearest gym as long as I went 11 times a month I'd SOOO be there!

I think encouraging healthy habits as suggested by mand is a GREAT idea! Give me a free gym membership- I'll go!

07-29-2009, 01:20 AM
I agree.Free gym memberships would be great!!!There are some amazing companies to work for that offer their employees free gym memberships or a certain amount of money every year to use toward a gym or golf club...etc.Unfortunately I dont work for one.Darn.

07-29-2009, 03:30 PM
I think workplace incentives are completely different (and great idea!) than government incentives. Taxpayers can't really complain if it's an individual workplace thing. I only wish more employers would participate.

07-29-2009, 09:54 PM
I think rewarding people for having a healthy BMI is totally unfair.

I would agree. Many people are within the "healthy bmi" range but their health is NOT good. They eat junk, they don't exercise, they don't take care of themselves, etc. I'm fat, yes! But I spend a lot of time taking care of myself, eating healthy, analyzing my food for junk, exercising, visiting a chiropractors, learning about health and how I can help myself. I make a lot of effort all the time. I feel like most of my life revolves around learning and practicing how to be more healthy and avoid chemicals. BMI does not determine health at all.