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Obesity is Deadly and Expensive

We’re fat and getting fatter quicker.

Look around.

Now that we’re talking about national health care, will it become everybody’s business?

In the eight years leading up to 2006, the proportion of Americans weighing in as obese shot up 37%, fueling a $40-billion-a-year rise in healthcare costs, according to a new analysis of the nation’s weight conducted under the direction of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That added bill for the care of obese Americans — equivalent to an annual expenditure of $1,429 more per person — drove the nation’s healthcare tab up fast and very steeply: while the extra care required for the severely overweight accounted for 6.1% of all medical spending in 1998, it accounted for 9.1% of total spending by 2006, the new study shows.

Check with your doctor about any exercise program, especially if have never had one. That goes double for any change in diet. Altering either exercise and diet is something that should be done slowly and carefully. Besides, if you want to get healthy the only way it will happen is through a lifestyle shift. This post in no way is being offered as medical advice, as I’m not an M.D. and not qualified in the least, which will make my lawyer happy that I’ve admitted. But I certainly can give you my own personal experience on the subject gained over a lifetime of competitive living in many, many arenas.

“The biggest loser” is a terrific inspiration to the obese. These people intend on changing their life by getting control over their own eating and exercise habits, which has the power to change their lives.

Of course, eating is also tied to emotions. Who doesn’t know that? So it’s a complex issue requiring a lot of intellectual work as well.

If we’re serious about health care reform, the first thing that has to happen is each American taking responsibility for their own health and the choices each person makes to sabotage that effort. With national health care, we’re paying for the fat slob across the aisle. So tolerance for obesity has got to go. As does laziness about working out and our own responsibility to health.

Anyone bet we’re going to do this? That people are going to curb their junk food addictions? Fat chance.

Now, not everyone is a size 4, including me. But everyone knows when they’re overweight and should rein it in. You don’t need a scale for that. You also know if you’re in shape. You don’t feel good when you’re overweight and out of shape. You also look like hell. There is nothing wrong with being a size 14, depending on your own natural curves and body structure. However, if you’re not working out 30 minutes a day, 5 to 6 times a week, well, you’re simply out of shape.

Working out every day is not something you ask yourself if you have time for. You simply make the time every day. No outs. Period.

The phrase “big and beautiful” was a major phrase back in the 1990s. It was used a lot in personal and dating ads. But “fat and beautiful” would not have caught on. Making big sexy had been a movement. However, fat isn’t in anymore.

What’s the difference? With national health, will we start defining it more aggressively?

The saddest sight I see is fat parents with kids following in their footsteps. It’s appalling. In fact, it’s a type of child abuse. It’s setting up the kid to have a horrendous disadvantage later in life. But when parents are lazy, fat slobs, what do you expect?

But how focused are we really going to be on “health care.” Not just affordable health insurance, but a nation of people who get a grip that “dieting” doesn’t do it and if you want to be healthy it’s about changing your lifestyle to match that intent?

Drinking too much? Did you think immediately about alcohol? What about sugar rich sodas? Both in excess are killers.

There are a few secrets I’ve learned over the years about weight. First among them is you won’t lose weight if you don’t exercise… a lot. Some half-assed meandering walk around the block isn’t enough. That goes double once you’re over 40. Secondly, to lose weight you have to eat less. Push away from the table. But starving yourself is stupid and a diet frame of mind, not a lifestyle shift that you can manage over the long haul. There’s no substitute for thinking long term. And know your body and don’t compare it to Jane who’s younger and burns calories like oxygen.

Oh, and get your butt to the gym.

Someone also needs to tell me why people who work daily on staying fit and healthy should pay for the diseases of the obese when they made that choice themselves?

“The connection between rising obesity and rising medical spending is undeniable,” the authors of the study, published in the journal Health Affairs, concluded.

Smokers get dinged on insurance forms, costing more, why shouldn’t the obese?

This is one reason I can only get so exercised, forgive the pun, about health care reform, unless it has a prevention and wellness aspect built in. What are people going to do themselves to make health care reform work, which includes keeping costs down by not getting preventable diseases?

It gets down to changing the way we think. Good health is very rarely an accident. It also goes beyond diet and exercise to include mental health. But that’s another subject for another day.

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