In New York City, where I live, there’s a new controversy (read: outrage) over Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest bid to regulate our behavior. Some citizens refer to him as the “Nanny who never sleeps.” But I appreciate the fact that he managed to ban smoking in the city’s bars, restaurants and many public places. Now you can finally go out for a drink or dinner and not come home reeking like a stale pack of Parliaments.
Bloomberg was also responsible for phasing out trans-fats in fast-food chains. It is well known that these artificial fats perform the double whammy of raising bad and lowering good cholesterol. They basically increase inflammation throughout the body, part of the process that causes heart disease. But since it’s virtually impossible for a customer to identify fries made in saturated or trans-fat free oil by seeing, tasting or smelling them, who knows what frying oils are really being used. Or even if the chains are complying with the ban…and are those oils are any better for our health. Best to just stay away from fast food to begin with. I loved the mother who sued McDonald’s for making her kids fat. How could any of us parents have known that eating Big Macs twice a day would lead to obese offspring! I mean, seriously?
But I digress. Food fats aside, the mayor is now trying to banish extra-large sugary drinks. Bravo Mayor Bloomberg!! The New York Post‘s Michael Goodwin, for example, is a strong proponent of Bloomberg’s new plan: “What he’s doing is far less meddlesome than hordes of fatties dumping their health-care bills on the rest of us. I’m all for individual freedom, John and Jane Doe and their spawns can mainline sugar till they explode—if they sign a waiver promising not to demand that Uncle Sucker pay the tab.”
The premise of this type of thinking is that obesity levels have risen to outrageous proportions in this country. This figure extends to overweight children who are doomed to shorter lives, filled with serious diseases such as diabetes, cancer and coronary thrombosis. And this is the first generation whose parents may actually outlive them. That’s not to give kudos to overweight adults! They are just raising our health insurance rates and clogging our hospitals and emergency rooms. All together, they put an enormous burden on our medical system. And guess who pays for all their indulgences on empty calories? Alas, we do!!
Continues Goodwin: “With nearly one in four New Yorkers obese, the annual tab is roughly $4 billion, City Hall says. Of that, about $2.7 billion is charged to Medicaid, which means to city, state and federal taxpayers. Some $540 million comes directly from city coffers, and that does not include extra childbirth costs for obese mothers.”
And we’re only talking New Yorkers for those numbers. How about the communities across the country where double cheeseburgers are considered an appetizer? And have you ever had the unpleasant experience of sitting next to a 300+ pounder on a plane whose girth flowed into your seat? Yes, they have a right!! The right to lost weight!!
So what’s the solution? On the road to becoming Better Than Before, adults should start by simply losing 20 pounds or five to ten percent of his/her body weight by eating a diet that is low in calories, saturated fats, salt, cholesterol and simple carbohydrates — notably sugar and high fructose corn syrup. People will help themselves immensely by quitting smoking and exercising 30 minutes five days a week. And it doesn’t have to be anything complicated or expensive, like Pilates or spinning classes. Everyday activities such as walking, bicycling or swimming are fine and will make a difference.
Most important, parents of the millions of obese or significantly overweight children take note: Stop blaming your kids’ weight problems on society. It’s up to you to do something about it, it’s up to you to teach your child how to eat right. Also, understand that a healthy lifestyle is not just limited to a better diet. Try to curtail TV, computer games and X-Box time and encourage your kids to go out and exercise. Join them!
However, the question still remains: Why should people who actually care about their health have to subsidize insurance for those who don’t? Should excessively overweight people pay more for coverage? Should they be required to buy two seats on a plane? We all have our own views on this dilemma. Many of us are affected by people right in our own families. But as a society we have to start somewhere, so how about with you. Think about what you eat and drink, think about exercising, think about feeling Better Than Before. Maybe skipping soda altogether and drinking an eight-ounce glass of cold water or naturally flavored seltzers are all you need to do to get started.
Remember: When you lose, we all gain!!
Photo Credit: US News