RK Tip of the Week:Health Care Reform & American Waists|Large & In Charge?

Posted on September 23, 2009


I don’t make a habit of reading or listening to Bill Maher – he’s a bit cranky at times, but he is also incredibly intelligent & sees things in an objective way that many talking heads cannot/will not. But last Fri, he posted a blog entry that made me stop, read, & say, “hell yes!”

His blog “New Rule: You can’t complain about healthcare reform if you’re not willing to reform your own health”   hit the nail on the head for me. I’ve linked to it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-maher/new-rule-you-cant-complai_b_291852.html

“Healthcare”, the very words that make it up, ‘health’ & ‘care’ would indicate that you are taking care of your health. Not just determining the care of your sickness…which is all that Congress, talking heads, & ins. companies seem to be jostling about these days. The phrase “health care reform” would indicate that we are reforming, or ‘changing to a better state’ the care of our health, but that seems not to be the case with the way obesity rates continue to climb in both adults & children – 2/3 of adult Americans are now considered overweight or obese & 1 in 3 children are in the same boat. You are now a minority in this country if you are regularly living within your caloric means. Our children are staring down the barrel of being the 1st generation to not live as long as their parents did due to health complications from an early age. This. is. unacceptable. But you would never know it on Capitol Hill.

Rather than spend all of the money, time & effort on what we do once someone gets sick, we need to be spending some of the money, time & effort on how to seriously reform the health of this country so we are not needing to spend so much money & resources on all of the preventable diseases relating to weight gain & lack of exercise or nutrition; from the World Health Organization, the major diseases that come from being overweight/obese:

Cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke) – already the world’s number one cause of death, killing 17 million people each year…Diabetes – which has rapidly become a global epidemic. WHO projects that diabetes deaths will increase by more than 50% worldwide in the next 10 years…Musculoskeletal disorders – especially osteoarthritis…Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).

Part of why this system is failing us is because it is bending under the weight of taking care of illness that come with excess weight, lack of daily exercise, and poor nutrition. Those who choose to live at a healthy weight, at a solid fitness level & who are in control of their positive nutritional habits, are disadvantaged by the fact that both their tax dollars & rising premiums are not because of them, but partly because of all of the other people who are choosing to not give a second thought to what they are doing for their own health & fitness. Because someone else is choosing to flip the middle finger to their own health, means the minority that ARE fit, suffer.

It is NOT OK to be overweight. It is NOT OK to be obese. I’m not here to sympathize with how anyone got to where they are, I’m here to let you know that as a country, we can still do something!, & we need to rally together to stand up for our health which means actually doing something about the truly manure-quality of our food supply, the lack of personal & community accountability to living an active lifestyle, & the unwillingness of government to step in on this deadly habit like they did on cigarette smoking.

If I were a smoker, which I’m not, but if I were- I’d be marching on the Hill daily protesting the obvious prejudice against cigarettes, a deadly habit that the US now taxes the hell out of just to buy a pack, when we have just as deadly habits in the fast food & soda pop world that are not getting taxed at all! What’s the difference? We know cigarettes can kill you, how many more studies need to come out proving the link between poor nutrition, lack of exercise and  soda pop junk & increased risk of disease & ultimately death?

Here’s what you can do to make  a positive change – besides writing your Congressperson, which actually CAN do something regardless of how jaded you are about ‘the system.’

  • 1. You have to decide to care enough to not be the dead-weight of this country’s efforts. If you’re overweight or obese, or don’t know if you are, schedule a dr’s visit to learn your numbers.
  • 2. After that, or if you already know you need to be healthier than you are today, get thee to a professional to learn how to begin a program–>you can usually meet with a trainer in a local gym for a complimentary consultation, you can hire a professional to design workouts with and for your goals in mind, and you can use sites like this one to get educated about the facts of getting optimally fit (I don’t usually recommend books or dvds unless you come to me with a specific title in mind that I can research to help you understand if it works for your needs, because most of what is on store shelves today is gimmicky & not successful long-term.
  • 3. You need to begin exercising regularly – if you live somewhere that there are not sidewalks, you should work with your neighbors to form a group to contact the Village to let them know you’re serious about having a safe place to exercise. Check out this project going on in one city in the US! http://www.bluezones.com/vitality-project-about
  • 4. You need to make your voice heard in the supermarket aisles– learn about your food choices & only choose the ones that comply with a healthy lifestyle- that can mean going organic or not, but buying local when possible; it can mean buying eggs that are raised on organic feed & pastured, or simply ones that have not been raised in feedlot chicken coops with 400 to a pen (you can find all this stuff out rather easily by simply researching online, in movies like “Food, Inc.”, & in many popular books like In Defense of Food. When you choose not to purchase products that do not meet your healthy criteria, that sends a direct message via the bottom line of these companies market shares. And when enough Americans get behind something, well, just look at what we’ve accomplished!

I am as serious as a heart attack when I say that a plan to fight obesity in this country is the single most important thing we can do to ensure the long-term success of the care of our health. Plans & Medicare Part B’s & single-payer options will shift & mold over time and to what our country thinks is best suited to give every American the option for coverage. But if we get coverage for everyone, and we’re still a nation of fat people…then we have not really come any closer to a solution for “health” “care” “reform”, have we?