Over the last 10 years obesity has made the headline news in print media and TV. During this same period, multiple approaches dealing with this condition have been addressed by physicians, nutritionists and exercise specialists. Ten years later, adult obesity rates have increased from 32% to 38%. Children (between 2-19 years of age) have remained approximately the same (17.1% to 17.2%.) This means that 10 years of education and professional intervention has been ineffective treating this condition. Based on this information, what recent changes have been recommended to alter this current course?
This condition has been identified as a contributing factor leading to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. The cost to human life from an emotional, physical and financial perspective is astronomical. The cost to the healthcare system is just as harmful. With no game plan it becomes apparent that no one is willing to address this important sensitive issue. Rather than worrying about political correctness, can we create changes to our system that will create individual accountability? Any solution offered will be met with anger, disagreement and controversy. This leaves us with two choices:
We continue following the same course and allow this problem to continue to escalate.
We implement policy changes to address this problem with realistic (albeit uncomfortable) solutions.
Before I list my suggestions, I want all readers to know that I respect everyone equally. These suggestions will be direct and will add accountability, but will also be viewed by some as cruel and insensitive. This is truly not the intention. Sometimes people do not like solutions during the process which is certainly understandable. Our unwillingness to implement the difficult decisions is no longer an option. Those suffering from obesity will only grow in numbers without policies that encourage behavioral changes. It is important to realize these recommendations are not based on popular support, but rather the need to turn this epidemic around.
These solutions are designed strictly for those choosing to live a lifestyle that promotes weight management issues. There are many people currently suffering obesity as a result of various health conditions and treatments being utilized. The following solutions are not intended for the population of obese patients falling into this category. They are designed strictly for those intentionally following a lifestyle promoting this condition on their own volition. In this country we believe that no one has the right to tell any individual how to live their life. I agree entirely with this concept up to the point it crosses the line and infringes on the quality and safety of other people’s lives.
Based on the fact that obesity adds significant health costs to the healthcare system those responsible for living this lifestyle shall be required to pay increased costs into the healthcare system in addition to any current premium paid. These fees can be evaluated on a quarterly basis and altered based on their success or failure at achieving weight changes. They will be offered FREE counseling (if they choose to accept it) to address their underlying issues that contribute to their condition. Every possible attempt should be made to help everyone become a healthy weight.
Obese people will be required to pay for additional seating in any venue where there weight/BMI infringes upon any other patron. Examples may include (but not limited to) seating for transportation and seating for entertainment. This will provide obese people ample seating space and provide non obese people the same courtesy.
Parents of obese children will be required to accept responsibility for their child’s weight by scheduling doctor visits to have their children monitored for weight loss. If the parent is unable or unwilling to assist their children to lose weight, they will be required to attend FREE classes offering professional guidance to design programs to help their children attain a safe and healthy weight. If the parent’s work schedule interferes with these classes, they can assign another adult family member to take the course on their behalf. A time interval will be established by the child’s physician to follow up and see if the child is successfully heading in the right direction. If this process fails the child in achieving weight loss, a state run agency will place the child in a temporary facility with professionals capable of teaching these children the steps necessary to becoming a healthy weight. Upon successfully completing this program, the children will be allowed to return to their families.
These solutions offered are only the beginning. They will need monitoring and adjusting as the results are measured. These solutions are painful and difficult to suggest. What other choices do we have with an epidemic that currently shows no sign of resolution.
Based on the volatility of this topic, I welcome suggestions and solutions that meaningfully address this issue. I DO NOT welcome anger and antagonistic attitudes. If this problem is going to be solved, we need ideas that offer hope for change. I certainly do not have all the answers and may even offer suggestions that fail entirely. I am, however, stepping out and honestly trying to face a problem no one else is currently discussing with any real level of success. Watching the published statistics increase for this condition is heartbreaking and demoralizing. We need a real plan of action. I ask for your help and ideas to begin a constructive dialogue to help reverse the course obesity is following.