There’s debate everywhere about the recent changes to US healthcare nationally, and one of the fearful questions raised is: what’s going to happen to the fat people?
It’s a very good question, and especially given that most obesity health research to date has been funded not out of concern for national or personal health, but out of a desire to find more ways to sell diet plans. While the hucksterism and fearmongering sales approach has gotten more advanced over the years, it is still essentially the same old tactics but now with even more meaningless buzz words to drive your metabolism into a fat-making frenzy. Unfortunately, most of Congress and a good chunk of medical professionals who don’t have time to read the actual research into the hows and whys of the fat person by into this load of sales-slimed bullshit.
And thus we have, “You’re fat, you’re gonna die!” Yeah, probably when I’m well over 80, unless I take up smoking. I’m fairly confident that so long as I maintain my exercise routine, my quality of life going into the elder years will actually be OK.
First, I want to point out that the current healthcare reform signed into law is not health care reform. It’s health insurance reform. Every US citizen regardless of anything other than citizenship will have a right to some type of health insurance. If someone tries to cut you off based on weight, you can probably call up the ACLU. The insurance for any family making less than $88K a year will be subsidized. Sure, most will still get it through their employers, but the days of working jobs you hate for the sake of your insurance are now in their twilight. For the more conservative among you, states rights are completely protected. If your state already has a health insurance coverage, like mine does, it will now be what the federal government subsidizes, and you can keep all your personal politics in the local and state level – smaller government, just how conservatives say they like it. Besides, Republicans started it with the subsidization, and that’s what got us corn syrup.
Second, I want to let you know that whatever your fears are, you’re not completely powerless. While we’ve got some great people taking on the case of fat-phobia and doctors refusing to do their jobs when it comes to fat people in a confrontational way, I as always like a more subversive approach.
What we need to do is collect sufficient data as to confuse the daylights out of people making assumptions about the hows and whys of fatness. Lots of people assume if you’re fat you’re sucking down fast food like it’s going out of style and then laying on your couch eating bon bons or something. I really think that’s true of very few of us, and those that it is true of are likely suffering a chemical imbalance that goes beyond simple laziness. So I’m proposing, first of all – we start writing it all down, but NOT for the sake of a diet or becoming thin.
I think that, as an act of self protection in healthcare that every person regardless of size should keep a food diary complete with calorie count and nutritional information. This isn’t about calorie control: it’s about having that information to show your doctor, going back as many months as possible, and possibly getting the bad ones to stfu about what s/he’s assuming about your diet. This should be accompanied by an exercise diary. Perhaps even review different types of workouts your try. For women it should be no different than tracking your monthly cycles: we don’t all use that information the same way, but it generally ends up being helpful.
Why is this subversive? Because it’s taking one standard “bad fatty” punishment, putting it in the hands of the fat people proactively, and will in some cases turn the tables: not “bad fatty.” “Bad doctor,” and not in the fun way.
Another thing you can do is write to your Congress members urging them to find new ways to encourage physical activity. Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity task force for children is cringe inducing not just in the way it makes children who are already having issues suffer even more, but in that it completely misses the point: kids pattern themselves after adults. If the adults are encouraged, even allowed a more active lifestyle, health problems – if not collective weight – would wane. I still like the idea of making gym memberships tax deductible, and there are multiple “walk to work” and “walk your children to school” programs throughout the country that have had an excellent effect on the community.
In fact, just getting away from the need for each individual to own a car and raising the demand for pedestrian-friendly municipalities would do quite a bit to free people both physically and economically: you’re out, getting your body to move, and you’re paying less at home for that car. If we can find a gross national product that doesn’t involve automobiles, we’d be all set for a great big healthy cultural change.
But I spitball. I do believe that the health care reform is progress, but as in all things with government, it means that my role as a citizen has only just begun, and that it’s time to speak up and keep talking about my own ideas for improvement.