Free Markets, Free People

obesity


Here we go again …

The cult of the vicitim is alive and well in the US.  It’s been fostered by politicians and lawyers who are open to the idea that one’s problems, whatever they are, are the fault of someone else.
And, given that doing so gives the pols more power (and the lawyers more money), the field is open for exploitation.  Remember the tobacco settlement?  Well guess who is next and why:

Lawyers are pitching state attorneys general in 16 states with a radical idea: make the food industry pay for soaring obesity-related health care costs.

It’s a move straight from the playbook of the Big Tobacco takedown of the 1990s, which ended in a $246 billion settlement with 46 states, a ban on cigarette marketing to young people and the Food and Drug Administration stepping in to regulate.

Yes, getting fat is the fault of “big food”.  Being obese is just not your fault.  So lets soak “Big Food” (and raise already high grocery prices through the roof, shall we?):

“I believe that this is the most promising strategy to lighten the economic burden of obesity on states and taxpayers and to negotiate broader public health policy objectives,” said Paul McDonald, a partner at Valorem Law Group in Chicago, who is leading the charge.

McDonald’s firm has sent proposals to AGs from California to Mississippi explaining how suing “big food” could help their states close budget gaps as billions in Medicaid expenditures eat a growing share of tax revenues.

In a letter to Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane last year, McDonald noted that the state faced a $3.7 billion budget shortfall in 2012 and had to cut back on certain services. The state’s total Medicaid burden that year was $10 billion — and getting a piece of that back could help close the gap.

Yes friends it is the “most promising strategy to lighten the economic burden on the states and taxapayers” … say what?  Taxpayers?  Aren’t they the one’s who will foot the bill for the “Big Food” pass-through of cost to litigate this idea and then, if the lawyers are successful, pay the settlement?

Name someone you know who isn’t a “food adicit” and doesn’t buy food from “Big Food”, will you?  I’d be interested to meet them.

In the meantime, if this guy is successful in selling this to state AGs (and I’d not be surprised if they bit), the cost of food will go up as the cost of litigating this nonsense rises.  After all, Big Government is now in charge of health care costs (something they’ve actually driven up) and are desperate for ways to make it cheaper.

You’re just a victim, slugger.  And these guys have your best interests at heart, don’t you know?  Let the demonization of Big Food begin.

As an aside, it is a bit ironic that the laywer pushing this full employment for lawyers scheme is named McDonald, no?

~McQ


Speaking of your health care, the obese should prepare for another government mandate

Given that ObamaCare has been upheld, the following shouldn’t take many people by surprise:

In a move that could significantly expand insurance coverage of weight-loss treatments, a federal health advisory panel on Monday recommended that all obese adults receive intensive counseling in an effort to rein in a growing health crisis in America.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force urged doctors to identify patients with a body mass index of 30 or more — currently 1 in 3 Americans — and either provide counseling themselves or refer the patient to a program designed to promote weight loss and improve health prospects.

Under the current healthcare law, Medicare and most private insurers would be required to cover the entire cost of weight-loss services that meet or exceed the task force’s standards.

And, of course, all that will be “free” and cost absolutely nothing because ObamaCare has magically lowered costs in the insurance and health care world.

Read those three sentences carefully.  You can see the coming disaster easily through this fairly simple example.  Government has a solution to obesity.  More government.

First BMI is a crock of crap.  Anyone who has spent a day looking into it knows that.  Yet the government stubbornly holds on to the standard.  I’m 6’ and 188 pounds.  My BMI is 26 which makes me “overweight”.  Sorry, that’s BS.   And if you have any muscle mass at all, you can most likely count on being overweight even if you’re in the best shape of your life.

But BMI is what we’re going to see used to determine who that one-third are, and the bottom two-thirds?  Well they have a role too.  They will be paying for that top one-third’s “intensive weight loss services” for which the law mandates insurers pay.

What are those standards of treatment?

The task force concluded after a review of the medical literature that the most successful programs in improving patients’ health were "intensive, multicomponent behavioral interventions." They involve 12 to 26 counseling sessions a year with a physician or community-based program, the panel said.

Successful programs set weight-loss goals, improve knowledge about nutrition, teach patients how to track their eating and set limits, identify barriers to change (such as a scarcity of healthful food choices near home) and strategize on ways to maintain lifestyle changes, the panel found.

The programs set goals?  Anyone who is past the age of 20 and with an IQ above room temperature knows that programs setting goals are useless.  Unless the person for whom the program is setting those goals is willingly and totally committee to change, it won’t work.  Ask any ex-smoker or alcoholic.

But, cynic that I am, I see opportunities here for all sorts of waste, fraud and abuse.  It is found in the phrase “community based programs”.  The new growth industry?  “Intensive, multicomponent” weight loss companies contracted to the government to provide “behavioral interventions” and facilitate weight loss.  Because otherwise, doctors have to do the sessions and we all know that’s going to happen, don’t we?  We;’re so overstocked with them and they have so little to do.

And don’t you just love the phrase “behavioral intervention?”  Sounds … ominous?

Finally, the government is still pushing diet regimes that don’t solve the problem.  Look at the sample menu here on this 1,600 low calorie menu.  Note the carbohydrates and sugars in that menu (sugars aren’t noted, but it has juice and fruit).  If you want to lose weight it is those you must cut out.  Not salt.  Not even fat.  The body converts carbs and sugars to glucose.  And it burns glucose before it burns fat.  If you load up on things that produce glucose and the body doesn’t burn It all, it then stores the rest as fat.  So you want a diet that reduces glucose production and has the body burning stored fat.  That is how you lose weight.  That means removal of grains, bread, potatoes, pasta, etc.  You should also avoid starchy vegetables like corn.

That menu is loaded with them.   Personal experience.  Go low carb and you’ll see weight drop off and quickly (like 7 pounds in a week).  At some point, you can begin to add a few carbs back in when you go to maintenance mode.  There are or may be some initial unpleasant side effects to going low carb, but you get over them fairly quickly.

But government continues to push a “balanced” diet loaded with all the things that actually help make us fat.

If any weight is lost using their plan it will be excruciatingly slow and if you think someone is going to stick with a diet like that I’ve linked for very long, you don’t know human nature.   If you’re going to motivate someone to lose weight, you’d better show them some pretty real and dramatic progress fairly quickly or you’re going to lose their interest in about 2 weeks, a month at the most.  Because here is ground truth about diets:

A common argument that many experts wield against carbohydrate restriction is that all diets fail, the reason being that people just don’t stay on diets. So why bother? But this argument implicitly assumes that all diets work in the same way—we consume fewer calories than we expend—and thus all fail in the same way.

But this isn’t true. If a diet requires that you semi-starve yourself, it will fail, because (1) your body adjusts to the caloric deficit by expending less energy, (2) you get hungry and stay hungry, and (3), a product of both of these, you get depressed, irritable, and chronically tired. Eventually you go back to eating what you always did—or become a binge eater—because you can’t abide semi-starvation and its side effects indefinitely. -Taubes, Gary (2010). Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It (p. 209). Random House, Inc.

By the way, that’s a great book and I recommend it highly. 

Anyway, I didn’t mean to wander off into a diet discussion, but it only helps reinforce my point.  Government, as of now, is touting exactly the wrong stuff to fight obesity.  Yet it plans, obviously, on taking the lead, having doctors prescribe the weight loss programs and require unwilling “obese” people to take them.  And all of it will ‘cost less’ – never mind the golden opportunities for waste, fraud and abuse.

Yes, friends, now that the government owns health care, it has a plan for all you fatties out there.   Whether or not you really want to lose weight that’s another choice (freedom) you’ll probably lose.  Mandatory obesity screening and a prescribed program of weight loss coming you’re way whether you want it or not.  And all at a nominal cost, of course.  Because, you know, health care costs have been reduced now that we all have to have insurance or pay a tax.

Welcome to your new world.

Forward.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Why are we fat and what should we do about it?

That’s a collective “we” and I’m talking about the so-called “obesity epidemic” in this country.   We’ve heard all sorts of theories and reasons for our steady weight gain – the sedentary “couch potato” lifestyle, TV, fast food, etc.

The newest study on this now includes the workplace as a partial source as well.  As we’ve transitioned form more labor intensive and active manufacturing jobs to more sedentary jobs in an office environment, that too has helped expand our waistlines.

OK.  I see no problem with that particular theory.  The study says the change in our workplace activity has, on average, seen a decline of 120 to 140 calories a day in job related physical activity.

Sounds like something those interested in losing weight need to consider and remedy, right?  

“If we’re going to try to get to the root of what’s causing the obesity epidemic, work-related physical activity needs to be in the discussion,” said Dr. Timothy S. Church, a noted exercise researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., and the study’s lead author. “There are a lot of people who say it’s all about food. But the work environment has changed so much we have to rethink how we’re going to attack this problem.”

Really?  See here’s where today’s “science” and I diverge.  Thank you for the information Dr. Church, but while you may have hit upon something solid as a reason for increased obesity, and that information is useful to me, I don’t need anyone “attacking” the problem for me.  So you can leave the “we” out of it.  Because we all know what that usually means.  And you can see it in the words of those who’ve taken an interest in this aspect of fighting obesity:

Researchers said it was unlikely that the lost physical activity could ever be fully restored to the workplace, but employers do have the power to increase the physical activity of their employees by offering subsidized gym memberships or incentives to use public transit. Some companies have set up standing workstations, and marketers now offer treadmill-style desks. Employers can also redesign offices to encourage walking, by placing printers away from desks and encouraging face-to-face communication, rather than e-mail.

“The activity we get at work has to be intentional,” Dr. Ainsworth said. “When people think of obesity they always think of food first, and that’s one side of it, but it’s high time to look at the amount of time we spend inactive at work.”

It shouldn’t be up to employers to have to provide incentives or subsidies.  What happened to American willpower?   Look, I lost 40 pounds and have kept it off (a year next month).  While I wasn’t “obese” in the clinical sense, I was heavier than I needed to be and was starting to have a sugar problem (diabetes runs in my family).  I started walking every day.   I now do about 4 miles a day (day off every 5th day).   That’s approximately 500 calories burned during a walk and I just finished up a physical where my doc said “you’re in great shape, I don’t need to see you for a year”.  Seriously, it just wasn’t that hard.  Blood pressure is down, weight is appropriate, cholesterol in the 130s, sugar in the green, all the right things.  

And people, claiming that you’re just too busy or can’t make that sort of time is nonsense.  You can.  You just don’t want too.  And if you can’t make the time to walk around your neighborhood for 30 minutes, you’ll certainly not have time to take advantage of a “subsidized” gym membership, will you?

The point, of course, is it is your (speaking collectively) responsibility to monitor and do something about your weight if it is a problem.  Not business and certainly not government (whose solution is usually some one-size-fits-all abomination that penalizes everyone).  The way to “attack” the problem is to recognize it and do something about it – not rely on others to do things for you.   We all know that regardless of what others will spend to give you the opportunity to lose weight, for instance, unless you’re willing to make the lifestyle changes to do what is necessary, it is a waste of money and time.

You go to work to work, not lose weight.  That’s on you.  Not business. 

My rant/pep talk for the day.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


You can see this one coming a mile off

The other day in the comment section of one of the many posts on health care, Looker brought up the fact that the new HCR law counts obesity as a chronic illness and uses Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine whether or not one is obese.   BMI, of course, is not the greatest way to determine obesity.  In fact, given that BMI is used, I even question the underlying definition of “obese”.  But that’s an argument for another day.  Suffice it to say, obesity is now officially a “disease” or “illness”.  And, of course, that means all sorts of new things when talking about it or taking action to counter it, doesn’t it?

So it came as no surprise to me to see this article about the conclusion of a recent study (timing being everything):

The study, involving rats, found that overconsumption of high-calorie food can trigger addiction-like responses in the brain and that high-calorie food can turn rats into compulsive eaters in a laboratory setting, the article said.

[...]

“Obesity may be a form of compulsive eating. Other treatments in development for other forms of compulsion, for example drug addiction, may be very useful for the treatment of obesity,” researcher Paul Kenny of The Scripps Research Institute in Florida said in a telephone interview.

Obesity-related diseases cost the United States an estimated $150 billion each year, according to U.S. federal agencies. An estimated two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children are obese or overweight.

Question – is there anyone out there that hasn’t understood that much of the obesity we see is caused by overeating and overindulging in the wrong  types of foods?   Anyone?  So that’s not news, is it?

So what is the key point to be gleaned from this study?

Well, what does “compulsive” mean?  Ah, yes, now you get it.  The first sentence leads us into the swamp.  Compulsion, as it is used here, is synonymous with addiction.  If obesity is a form of addiction that changes the whole game, doesn’t it?  It is suddenly something you can’t help.  It is something you need help beating, right?   And – follow me here – if the medical profession now finds itself with more and more “government insured” patients who are considered “obese”, per the law and obesity is a “chronic illness”, per the law, what’s likely?

For those who still aren’t following this,  don’t forget the first lady has declared “war” on childhood obesity, the last sentence above tells us that “obesity-related diseases cost the United States an estimated $150 billion each year”, and the government has promised to reduce health care costs via preventive medicine.  So where do you assume that leads us?

Or, here, let me ask this another way that may simplify it for you- which industry is the next to be demonized and which group is next to be draped in the mantle of victimhood and told “it isn’t your fault” while the rest of us pay for their “treatment” ?

~McQ


And The Answer To Obesity In America? More Government Regulation, Of Course

You see, you can’t help it – becoming obese I mean.  You just don’t understand enough about it all and besides our life styles have changed quite dramatically in such a way that you just can’t help puffing up.  And to top it all off,  you won’t change your eating habits and you won’t exercise, so what’s a government to do?

Why “stringently regulate” the food industry, per the “experts”, of course.

The point to this depressing analysis, the authors say, is to clarify that modern lifestyles contribute significantly to obesity and that it will be nearly impossible to reverse obesity trends on a grand scale without major societal changes.

“[S]mall changes in lifestyle would have a minor effect on obesity prevention,” they write. But the huge energy imbalance most Americans experience is “far beyond the ability of most individuals to address on a personal level.” Instead, they say, changes in the food supply and social infrastructure and more stringent regulations of the food industry will be needed.

Katan elaborated in an e-mail: “Studies show that even the most motivated, thoughtful, strong-willed people have a hard time losing weight when huge portions of cheap, tasty, convenient food are available at every turn of the road, and when walking and other forms of exercise are superfluous or impossible.”

“Cheap, tasty, convenient food” that’s readily available?!” What is this world coming too? How dare the food industry create food we want!?

But since Martijn B. Katan of the University of Amsterdam, and Dr. David S. Ludwig of Children’s Hospital, Boston have decided there isn’t much we’re able to do about it our selves (poor little helpless proles) and since we’re about to turn our health care over to government anyway, what the hell – let them decide what’s good for us, okay?

And we’ll all get nifty buttons to wear saying “WON” for “Whip Obesity Now!”. Can daily pep talks on a huge screen from our Big Brother in the White House be far behind?

[HT: Meg]

~McQ


The Shape Of Things To Come

A short little blurb in the WSJ:

The medical costs of treating obesity-related diseases may have soared as high as $147 billion in 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday, as its new director set a fresh tone in favor of more aggressively attacking obesity.

Fresh my rear end. The only thing “fresh” about it is another bureaucrat discovering a “fresh” new area in which to intrude.  A little reading between the lines is required.

Note the name of the agency. Is it a stretch, given what we’ve seen lately, to imagine this agency recommending that obesity be classified as a “disease”?

Why else would the director of the CDC even address the issue?

Of course once it has been declared a disease, all sorts of “prevention” can be legislated – for your own good, of course. And to “cut medical costs”.

The cost of treating obesity doubled over a decade, signaling the rising prevalence of excess weight and the toll it is taking on the health-care system. The medical costs of obesity were estimated to be $74 billion in 1998, according to a study by federal government researchers and RTI International, a nonprofit research institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Hmmm can taxes on food – sugary drinks, high calorie foods, etc – be far behind? Right now that may be a little more difficult and problematic because the government doesn’t have control of health care in this country. But, with that in the offiing, I think the new director of the CDC is just anticipating this “fresh” direction once said legislation is expelled from the bowels of Congress.

Just keeping you up to date.

~McQ