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Obesity In America, Why Do Politicians Care?

October 2012

My favorite aunt was morbidly obese when she died, 400+ pounds and only 5’5″.   In fact, morbid obesity was listed on the death certificate as one of the causes of death.  She was 49 years old.  That’s sad enough, but to make it even worse, she weighed less than 150 pounds when she got married maybe ten years prior.  I walked her down the aisle.

It sucked to see her lying there, starting to turn blue on the hospital bed, but it wasn’t too surprising.

So, in that story is an incredible lesson – other than, “holy shit, keep the exercise up”.  Politicians make a big deal about the obesity epidemic.  You’ve got special interest groups pushing for legislation banning this food or that, you’ve got politicians getting swept up in the mess, trying like hell to turn what was once the freest country in the world into some ridiculous “mama knows best” nanny state and in the process making everything more expensive.

See, I’m a husband and a father, but I’m also a business man and because of that I’m able to (usually) filter out a lot of the emotion involved in a specific topic to look at things for what they are.  The obesity epidemic is one of those topics.  I loved my aunt dearly, but it must be stated, she killed herself just as surely as if she chewed on the barrel of a gun before pulling the trigger.  It wasn’t any one food item that would have stopped her eating habits (she ate more than I did and didn’t exercise a bit – while I’m riding between 150 and 200 miles a week), in fact to get her to stay slim, politicians would have had to ban all restaurants, grocery stores and all food not grown (or shot) on your own land.  Talk about your paleo diet…  But here’s what I don’t understand – as a businessman and a taxpayer:  Why do politicians even care whether we’re fit or not?  My aunt died at 49 with better health insurance than I currently have.  She paid into social security for somewhere close to 30 years and didn’t draw a dime from it.  In short, by dying early, she was a net gain for the government.

I, on the other hand, if social security and medicare haven’t bankrupted the country in the next 25 years, being fit and healthy, will milk the system for decades.  The last ten years of my life, in terms of what it costs the US government, really will be the most expensive in my life, barring some unforeseen illness or ailment that sees me pushing up daisies early.

In other words, the US Government promoting healthy lifestyles is exactly the wrong thing to do – strictly from a business perspective.  It just boggles my mind.  Now, if the US government were responsible for the health care of its citizens, it would make sense to promote fitness – but it’s not (at least not yet), therefore it makes no sense.

Maybe someone can explain it…  Comments section is below.


  1. Chatter says:

    I can’t explain it, you raise a good point. Also understand that there is allot of junk science out there being supported and pushed by different elected officials. I don’t think a single one of them actually understands what any of the research or psudo-research they support or push actually means. This is why the ‘Obesity Epidemic’ has numerous flaws, it might be real, but most of it is based on junk research. The primary block that is preposterous is the misunderstanding of BMI as a metric to define obesity.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Great points, one and all.

      • Chatter says:

        As a man currently losing inches but not always pounds (I have a feeling I will still be over 250 when I get to my ideal) I can be healthy and fit and have low body fat but BMI will always brand me as obese. Now I know I am not the norm, but there is little leeway in that system or body type understanding.

      • bgddyjim says:

        There’s a lot to that, but nobody really goes by BMI anymore because it is so subjective. I paid it its due attention in a couple of posts, but BMI is just like any other benchmark – there are flaws in the system.

  2. […] Two seconds later a car whizzed by, they wouldn’t have had a chance.  I wrote about my aunt yesterday, and her fight with her weight (and it appeared after her death, alcoholism as well) – when […]

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