McGangBang (revisited)

5b985-bigmacWe have a serious problem in this country.
I am not talking about the violence issue, gun control, hate filled “news” programs, or holier than thou based religion.

No…I am talking about obesity.

The thing with this epidemic is that we all know it’s there. Take a walk one day through a shopping mall and just count the number of overweight people you see (to make it more interesting, see how many you can count that have become so overweight they need a motorized wheelchair). To prove this point, I came into work early Monday and counted the people here at 6:50 AM. Out of a total of 12 people in the office 5 are overweight (myself included) and two are morbidly obese. That is 42% of the total being overweight, and within that 42% a full 40% morbidly obese. From the CDC website (www.cdc.gov), during the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) and approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.

We all want to blame insurance companies and lawyers (and the President) for the rising health care costs in this country, but to be brutally honest its the unhealthy American public that cause these cost increases. “It’s my body and I can do and eat what I want!” you hear them say. That is true, but the fact is that you being unhealthy causes everyone to pay higher costs.

And that is just not right is it?

When you get new insurance now you have to answer basic questions regarding your health practices. This is not new. What is new is that they ask you now about health history (i.e. does cancer run in your family) and habits (i.e. do you smoke). These will now cause you to pay a higher premium, which I am personally in full agreement. They are going to start asking you for height and weight soon, to determine if you are considered overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, and the rates of your insurance will be reflected. I am also in agreement with this, even though I will end up paying more.

But here’s the rub … fast food is cheap. Usually the unhealthiest of foods are much cheaper than the healthy versions. This is why obesity rates are much higher in the poorer sections of the population. So now the poorest of us who already have no insurance will be burdened by higher insurance costs because they don’t have the ability to eat better (and before all the conservatives come flying at me with the argument that “they’ve” chosen their path in life, it’s not always the case. Remember, you are one layoff from being right there with the lower class. I learned that the hard way 2 years ago.).

So, while we know the problem, we are bombarded daily with easy, bad choices. On TV, on the radio, on billboards. The marketing is everywhere.

On TV last night I saw an ad for “Raisin Bran”. It was advertised as “take care of your heart by eating Raisin Bran cereal”.

Really?

Let’s look at the ingredients of Raisin Bran using the site http://blog.fooducate.com:

WHOLE WHEAT, RAISINS, WHEAT BRAN, SUGAR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SALT, MALT FLAVORING, VITAMINS AND MINERALS: NIACINAMIDE, REDUCED IRON, ZINC OXIDE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), VITAMIN A PALMITATE, FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN B12 AND VITAMIN D.

See the problem?

Fiber at 7 grams is pretty good at almost 30% of the daily minimum. Sugar is at 19 grams and that is a lot. It’s just under 5 teaspoon’s worth. For comparison, sugary kids’ cereals such as Froot Loops contain only 12 grams. But is it the raisins? Raisins are considered a decent source of sugar because of the beneficial fiber and other nutrients from the dried grape. But how much fiber comes from the raisins? And how much sugar is added to the cereal?
Math time!!
A serving of Raisin Bran is 2.1 ounces. Each ounce contains approximately 15 raisins, or 30 raisins per serving. According to the USDA, 50 raisins provide just 1 gram of fiber and contain 15 grams of sugar. So the thirty raisins in your bowl are 9 grams of sugar (2 teaspoons equivalent) and less than 1 gram of fiber. They have added 3 teaspoons of sugar to every serving, and this in the form of High Fructose Corn Syrup, probably the worst thing you could put into your gullet.

Heart healthy?

Really?

Now the genius minds at food companies are going to make it better right?

There was an article recently in the local Tampa free paper about how you can change orders at fast food restaurants to make already bad food even worse. Want a Big Mac (550 calories) but an extra part and one more bread slab? Sure. Just ask. Double Whopper with Cheese (990 calories) just not enough to satisfy? Ask for a Triple Whopper with Extra Cheese. For full disclosure I used to eat two Double Whopper with Cheese sandwiches, Large Fries, and Large Coke without breaking a sweat. But my weight was because of my thyroid cancer? Yeah … that’s the ticket. I’ll keep telling myself that.

Mmmm. Snickers.

Not only can you get added crap to the crap food, we can now get crap food deep fried! Snickers bar is deep fry that son of a bitch! Krispy Kreme donuts aren’t just for breakfast! Let’s throw it on a grill and added a greasy burger to it!! Croissant? No way man!! Lets turn it into a monstrosity called a “cronut”!! People will stand in line for three hours for that! They will break down sobbing when we run out too!! (Note: The Cronut story actually happened in New York. And supposedly New Yorkers are more sophisticated than us dumb southerners. Right?)

47afd-zooeyAnyone that can look at these items and actually think they look appetizing has serious issues. I am sorry if that hurts feelings but it’s true. They look gross. I wouldn’t eat this crap if Zooey Deschanel served it to me in nothing but an apron. What will it take for the people in this country to finally “get” that these companies are using us for profit at the expense of our health? We complain about the cost of healthcare while shoving deep fried candy bars into our pie holes. When the First Lady actually tries to get involved, Big Food quited her immediately. Have you heard anything recently about her work with physical fitness and health?? We convince the schools to get rid of soda and they replace it with fruit juices, which have more sugar than their soda counter parts! Parents, as a reward for eating all the bad food they are served for dinner, give their kids more sugar for dessert.

It makes my head hurt!

By the way, if Zooey served it in nothing but an apron I’d probably eat it. I mean … come on!! I’m human after all.

7 thoughts on “McGangBang (revisited)

  • May 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm
    Permalink

    I agree with your commentary on the food industry, but wow I have to strongly disagree that a “person of size” should have to pay more money for health insurance simply because they weigh more. Even if I bought into the premise that fat = unhealthy and being fat is a choice, both of which are debatable, why on earth would you make it harder for someone who is more likely to experience a medical issue to get the medical care they need? Because increased costs makes it harder for a lot of folks. And what “risk factors” are okay to penalize people for and which aren’t? Next thing you know we’ll be penalizing people who choose to live in cities because the air pollution increases their risk for lung cancer or we’ll ask people who choose to work more than 5 miles away from home due to increased risk of being in a car accident or women of childbearing age because if they give birth they incur all those pesky maternity costs. Seriously, where does it end?

    • May 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm
      Permalink

      I can understand the stance, and it is a slippery slope. As I stated, I would be one of the ones paying more as well, even though a majority of my issue is related to thyroid cancer and now psoriatic arthritis. If someone smokes, chooses to smoke, and develops lung cancer, should they not have to shoulder more of the health care burden? When someone develops a disease out of their control, say thyroid cancer as I did, that’s a different story entirely, but I do questions why a person who does everything right (or as right as they can) should have to pay for someone who continually makes bad choices. You went a little to the fringe with the examples (especially the child bearing one) but I can see your point.

  • May 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm
    Permalink

    I agree with your commentary on the food industry, but wow I have to strongly disagree that a “person of size” should have to pay more money for health insurance simply because they weigh more. Even if I bought into the premise that fat = unhealthy and being fat is a choice, both of which are debatable, why on earth would you make it harder for someone who is more likely to experience a medical issue to get the medical care they need? Because increased costs makes it harder for a lot of folks. And what “risk factors” are okay to penalize people for and which aren’t? Next thing you know we’ll be penalizing people who choose to live in cities because the air pollution increases their risk for lung cancer or we’ll ask people who choose to work more than 5 miles away from home due to increased risk of being in a car accident or women of childbearing age because if they give birth they incur all those pesky maternity costs. Seriously, where does it end?

    • May 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm
      Permalink

      I can understand the stance, and it is a slippery slope. As I stated, I would be one of the ones paying more as well, even though a majority of my issue is related to thyroid cancer and now psoriatic arthritis. If someone smokes, chooses to smoke, and develops lung cancer, should they not have to shoulder more of the health care burden? When someone develops a disease out of their control, say thyroid cancer as I did, that’s a different story entirely, but I do questions why a person who does everything right (or as right as they can) should have to pay for someone who continually makes bad choices. You went a little to the fringe with the examples (especially the child bearing one) but I can see your point.

      • May 27, 2014 at 7:17 pm
        Permalink

        I appreciate the thoughtful response. I only thought of the women/childbearing example because this issue actually came up in the whole Obamacare debate. People were up in arms about the mandatory maternity coverage and not allowing insurance companies to charge women more for insurance. So, it might not be as fringe as it may seem. But, I admittedly was using extreme examples to make a point.

        I think on the whole penalize people who are knowingly making bad health choices by making it harder/more expensive for them to get health insurance and therefore medical care is something we can agree to disagree on.

  • May 27, 2014 at 1:05 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you for writing this. I wrote about these issues myself a few months ago, frustrated with the disconnect a lot of people have with the cost of care and the health choices we make. The problem with low income people is, in part, a result of the “food deserts” that many poor people live in. In my area (Eastern PA) there are a number of these areas. Fortunately in South Bethlehem, PA the chain C-town just moved into one while a group I’m involved with – Bethlehem Food Co-op – is working on putting a grocery store in the other Bethlehem neighborhood that is designated a food desert. Hopefully there is action happening in your area of the country as well to resolve the food access issue.
    If interested, you can find my piece on this topic here: http://thecomplextriathlete.blogspot.com/2014/03/thinking-about-healthcare-in-america.html
    Jon

  • May 27, 2014 at 1:05 pm
    Permalink

    Thank you for writing this. I wrote about these issues myself a few months ago, frustrated with the disconnect a lot of people have with the cost of care and the health choices we make. The problem with low income people is, in part, a result of the “food deserts” that many poor people live in. In my area (Eastern PA) there are a number of these areas. Fortunately in South Bethlehem, PA the chain C-town just moved into one while a group I’m involved with – Bethlehem Food Co-op – is working on putting a grocery store in the other Bethlehem neighborhood that is designated a food desert. Hopefully there is action happening in your area of the country as well to resolve the food access issue.
    If interested, you can find my piece on this topic here: http://thecomplextriathlete.blogspot.com/2014/03/thinking-about-healthcare-in-america.html
    Jon

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