PDA

View Full Version : Alabama: Lose weight or pay for it



Steal
08-26-2008, 11:29 AM
The state of Alabama has given its 37,527 employees until 2010 to start getting fit -- or they'll pay $25 a month for insurance that otherwise is free.

Alabama will be the first state to charge its overweight workers who don't try to slim down, while a handful of other states reward employees who adopt healthful behaviors.

Alabama already charges workers who smoke -- and has seen some success in getting them to quit -- but now has turned its attention to a problem that plagues many people in the Deep South: obesity.

The full article is in the link below
http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com...rsWithFee.aspx

Sunny
08-26-2008, 11:57 AM
the link is broken. i found another one here:

http://blog.al.com/breaking/2008/08/alabama_to_charge_obese_state.html

now personally, i'm conflicted. obesity is often class-related... a lot of people don't have the money (or time, or both) to eat well or join a gym. financial penalties are not going to help. quite the opposite, actually. subsidizing gym memberships, offering free healthy cooking workshops during work hours... maybe offering some sort of organic food voucher program.. would be a much more positive thing to do. expecting people to "take steps or else" is not the best way of going about it.

also, BMI is not an accurate measure of health. there are many other factors involved (like blood pressure, body fat percentage, resting heart rate).
and let's not forget people who are obese due to a hormonal or metabolic problem.

another thing... i've never been to Alabama, but i've been to Mississippi, which is an even "fatter" state, and let me tell you... even with a car, it was fucking impossible to get healthy food there (unless you want to drive 50 miles or so...). fat free milk? whole grain bread? forget about it! the closest i saw to fresh vegetables was a package of Funyuns. but cookies, chips, Velveeta and all that stuff were *everywhere*. tons of fast food restaurants along the highway, too. so, it's also a matter of convenience and accessibility.

looking into this, i found out that the state of Alabama charges smokers $25 a month for insurance, which is actually pretty awesome. does that make me a bad person?

:edit: i just saw you pointed this^ out in your original post. *smacks forehead*

Rag Doll
08-26-2008, 12:03 PM
another thing... i've never been to Alabama, but i've been to Mississippi, which is an even "fatter" state, and let me tell you... even with a car, it was fucking impossible to get healthy food there (unless you want to drive 50 miles or so...). fat free milk? whole grain bread? forget about it! the closest i saw to fresh vegetables was a package of Funyuns. but cookies, chips, Velveeta and all that stuff were *everywhere*. tons of fast food restaurants along the highway, too. so, it's also a matter of convenience and accessibility.


my friend moved to Mississippi for a period of time a few months ago. she noted the exact same thing. between healthy food being more expensive and having to drive really far to get it (when gas was at it's highest), she and her mens just went to Sonic like constantly for food. she still looks the same, but her ex-marine and current security guard mens is like...wow. he looks like he packed on like 40lbs in like 3 months =\. and he was in really good shape.

Sunny
08-26-2008, 12:10 PM
yeah, i'm not surprised. eek. :/ i honestly cannot picture someone who works long hours driving long distances to get low fat, high fiber foods, and i think it's totally unrealistic and unfair to expect them to... while, as you said, they could just stop by a Sonic on the way home and pick up ready-to-eat dinner.

medi01
08-26-2008, 12:16 PM
from the two sentences i read, it sounds like a brilliant idea!

Steal
08-26-2008, 02:31 PM
Wow, I had no idea that healthy food was so hard to get. You'd think there would be more of a demand. While being fat does have many reasons, such as hormones, there's no doubt that some people are just plain lazy and this will help them to motivate themselves more. Although I do think the companies are being reasonable, because if the employee gets sick, there's a greater chance that will happen because of being obese or smoking. Although they SHOULD have a gym, and healthy food in the workplace. Most people are just way too tired when they get home, it's sad. My dad gets home at like 6PM, but still manages to run when he gets home. It's hard, but it just takes an iron strong will and strong motivation.

Sunny
08-26-2008, 02:43 PM
there is no demand because there's no proper education. you would be surprised how many people don't know how to put together a balanced meal. people don't know what's good for them, they don't know what nutritional information really means... and it doesn't help that healthy food is often dismissed as unnecessary, fancy "hippy crap".

i'm sure for some people, all it takes is a little extra push to get them motivated. but really, obesity is a much more complex issue. saying "stop being lazy" is not going to help.

it seems like the companies are just trying to save themselves some money instead of actually addressing the issue at its core, which is education and access.

eating healthy and being able to purchase nutritional food should not be a matter of having iron will. it should be a basic right.

wheelchairman
08-26-2008, 05:01 PM
I don't see why this is any of the state of Alabama's business.

I would however support creating incentives for eating healthy and exersising.

I just came back from vacation and I'm planning on eating healthy and exercising. I always plan on exercising, eating healthy just means that I'm serious about it this time.

Oh and it's not cause I'm overweight. Cause duh.

Sunny
08-26-2008, 05:31 PM
well, i can see why they would be concerned, considering 30% of Alabamians are obese. considering all the issues that are connected to obesity, i'm not exactly surprised the state is realizing something needs to be done.

Lizardus
08-26-2008, 05:47 PM
another thing... i've never been to Alabama, but i've been to Mississippi, which is an even "fatter" state, and let me tell you... even with a car, it was fucking impossible to get healthy food there (unless you want to drive 50 miles or so...). fat free milk? whole grain bread? forget about it! the closest i saw to fresh vegetables was a package of Funyuns. but cookies, chips, Velveeta and all that stuff were *everywhere*. tons of fast food restaurants along the highway, too.

Next stop, Mississippi.

wheelchairman
08-26-2008, 05:50 PM
well, i can see why they would be concerned, considering 30% of Alabamians are obese. considering all the issues that are connected to obesity, i'm not exactly surprised the state is realizing something needs to be done.

That's a lot, but what issues make it the states concern?

In Europe I would understand, the governments fund the health institutions and that will run costly in the long run to have an obese population. Besides the easiest thing to do would be the creative incentives to eat healthier, and apparently make healthy food more available. Like remove sales tax on fat free foods (or subsidize). Of course this won't convince the most lazy, but I doubt that 30% of Alabama is fat due to laziness. In fact I quite agree that it's often a class issue.

Sunny
08-26-2008, 06:11 PM
well firstly, this Alabama policy is directed at state employees, who are protected by state health insurance. also, the state might be worried about loss of productivity if many of its employees are obese. and then there's the people who are covered by Medicaid, which is a partially state-funded program.

wheelchairman
08-26-2008, 06:14 PM
oh yeah I don't know why I forgot it was employees. Then it should be doubly easier to provide a healthy alternative at the workplace.

I would still say the carrot is better than the stick. The stick just seems to pushy in people's private matters. Obesity costs money, but it's still none of their business what those people eat, it's not their right to judge.

Apathy
08-26-2008, 06:14 PM
I would attribute this less to class level and more to poor genetics. I had more to say, but I really don't want to say anything that makes me sound like a ignorant dick.

Which oddly tends to happen a lot whenever I discuss fat people.

Sunny
08-26-2008, 06:21 PM
oh yeah I don't know why I forgot it was employees. Then it should be doubly easier to provide a healthy alternative at the workplace.

I would still say the carrot is better than the stick. The stick just seems to pushy in people's private matters. Obesity costs money, but it's still none of their business what those people eat, it's not their right to judge.

i understand their concerns, but i agree that a reward system would work much better than a punishment system. what they're suggesting seems to be a very superficial solution that doesn't address the cause of the issue.

Apathy, i doubt the states of Alabama and Mississippi are so... genetically troubled that over 30% of the population is affected. i mean, yes yes, inbred southerners and all that, but come on. ;) there are certain groups that get hit by the obesity epidemic a lot harder than others... working class folks and African Americans, specifically. it's also coincidence that poor and minority neighborhoods are notorious for having fast food places on every corner, but virtually no access to healthy alternatives.

Apathy
08-26-2008, 06:40 PM
http://image.wetpaint.com/wiki/tojou/image/2UfL3CQ+Zu492C2e0VNERsw==12103/GW492H282

I dunno. It seems to me that healthy foods would be more prevalent and inexpensive - as long as you know what to get. You don't need to shell out cash for fat free milk or special grain breads. But you can't just shove Whole Milk and Wonderbread in yourself all day either. Another nice alternative for anyone with access to a yard (which in the rural south is not hard to come by). A Garden? Then it's YOUR healthy food, and takes relatively little upkeep for potentially a plethora of food.

This is where my supposed ignorance comes in. I've heard from many places that quite the opposite is true. Fast Food on every corner sure, but I can't imagine that any town with 2-3 Fast Food restaurants wouldn't have some sort of Grocery or Farmers Market; both of which would provide at least semi-healthy alternatives.

Then there's the argument of all the people who have such a low level of income, and high support costs that they are forced to live off of the dollar menu or some comprable source for food. This is unfortunate. But they are not the problem.
THESE ARE STATE EMPLOYEES. Many of them fat, slobbish, white people who insist on driving the Postal Service Vehicle through a Drive-Thru because they like their Triple Bacon Cheeseburgers. They aren't struggling with anything but their fucking belt buckles and clipping their toenails all by themselves.

Betty
08-26-2008, 10:24 PM
Tricky issue. And I probably don't know the specifics well enough.

Per, I think it's definitely the state's business if they're providing these people with health insurance.

Here's the thing with health insurance. I pay the same as everybody else, but I am never sick. Part of the reason for this is that I'm genetically fortunate, I'm sure. But also, I put a lot of effort into eating right and exercising. I don't smoke, etc. At this point in my life I probably pay more (for my extended insurance) than I end up having to pay for things that are health related and covered by insurance (obviously the things I need - glasses and birth control pills - are largely not covered), so I would be losing money. If I need ACCUPUNCTURE however, that's DEFINITELY covered! (Sorry, I'm really bitter about mandatory extended healthcare).

Anyway, even if these employees and get "free" insurance, it's still coming out of their rewards in some way, be it through tax or though earning less income or whatever. But I'm sure that there are stats that say that smokers and obese people are ill more often (there must be, right?) So it makes sense to charge these people more for insurance, no? That's all they're doing. Charging more. If these people choose to shape up before then, then they won't be charged more. I think it's completely fair.

Obviously I can sympathize to a degree. People have brought up valid points.

There is a class issue. Healthy food is expensive. Really expensive. I spend at least $100 a week on groceries (not including eating out - which I don't do that often) just for me. And I'm reasonably thrifty and not wasteful. But fresh produce (including the nice stuff like berries and fancy vegetables), chicken breast, x-lean ground beef, organic eggs, a few supplements, is quite expensive. It's a luxury that I can and choose to afford. However, you can still eat pretty healthy on a budget. My family did it for years when we were pretty broke. It's not quite the same level of healthy, but I don't think there's that much excuse for eating like a slob. You can buy three dozen eggs instead of a frozen pizza, a bag of oranges instead of a bag of chips, etc, etc. And there's a matter of time. But I think your health should be a priority, and with planning time is not really an excuse, again, for eating like a total slob or NEVER exercising. There's the people with genetic problems, but that's not very many, and I'm sure they can get a doctor's note or something to exempt them from this policy.

At the same time, while I think that the state is not necessarily wrong in their actions, they SHOULD offer additional support like free gyms in the workplace, healthy food in the cafeteria, more options at the grocery store, or whatever. But it's completely fair to charge people who are statistically more at risk for health problems more money if the reasons they are more at risk are under their personal control.

Sunny
08-27-2008, 05:25 AM
http://image.wetpaint.com/wiki/tojou/image/2UfL3CQ+Zu492C2e0VNERsw==12103/GW492H282

I dunno. It seems to me that healthy foods would be more prevalent and inexpensive - as long as you know what to get. You don't need to shell out cash for fat free milk or special grain breads. But you can't just shove Whole Milk and Wonderbread in yourself all day either. Another nice alternative for anyone with access to a yard (which in the rural south is not hard to come by). A Garden? Then it's YOUR healthy food, and takes relatively little upkeep for potentially a plethora of food.

This is where my supposed ignorance comes in. I've heard from many places that quite the opposite is true. Fast Food on every corner sure, but I can't imagine that any town with 2-3 Fast Food restaurants wouldn't have some sort of Grocery or Farmers Market; both of which would provide at least semi-healthy alternatives.

Then there's the argument of all the people who have such a low level of income, and high support costs that they are forced to live off of the dollar menu or some comprable source for food. This is unfortunate. But they are not the problem.
THESE ARE STATE EMPLOYEES. Many of them fat, slobbish, white people who insist on driving the Postal Service Vehicle through a Drive-Thru because they like their Triple Bacon Cheeseburgers. They aren't struggling with anything but their fucking belt buckles and clipping their toenails all by themselves.

Apathy, i've never *lived* in the south, but from the week i spent in mississippi... finding healthy stuff was impossible. the nearest convenience store carried tons of candy, mac n' cheese, full fat milk, wonderbread and potato chips... and that was pretty much it. then there was a walmart... about 1 hour away by car. and it's not like they carried lots of healthy alternatives, either. trust me, we looked - my mens can't eat processed carbs and i can't drink whole milk, so we were on a mission.

however, fried chicken and burger joints were *everywhere*. i have a feeling it's not an isolated case. not surprisingly, most people we encountered were on the verge of being morbidly obese.

making healthy choices is not just a matter of growing your own food or making health a priority. if as a child, you were not taught how to eat properly (Michelle and i obviously had that privilege), chances are you're not going to know how to eat as an adult. growing up, my family was pretty broke, too - thanks, Poland - but looking back, we were privileged in ways many Americans aren't. we knew what we were doing and had access to high quality produce. consulting a nutritionist and eating sprouts and kefir were not considered unusual. i came to America and people were like "lol, u elitist hippy fuck". i was like... what?

i know Americans who don't know if sugar has carbs, or whether fiber is good for you. and that's in New York fucking City. you can't expect people to make good choices if they have no idea what constitutes a good choice.

my point is, i don't think it's a personal issue as much as it is a systemic/social/cultural issue.

hshduppsnt
08-27-2008, 11:05 AM
i know Americans who don't know if sugar has carbs, or whether fiber is good for you. and that's in New York fucking City. you can't expect people to make good choices if they have no idea what constitutes a good choice.

my point is, i don't think it's a personal issue as much as it is a systemic/social/cultural issue.

sadly this is really true. Even in "super health aware" humboldt or in certain trendy healthy places in the bay area or down in socal, people are kind of stupid when it comes to healthy. My favorite are people who skip two meals a day, eat a Ton for dinner, or say they're just having a salad then drench it in ranch...

seems the only one people are Really sure of is that too much red meat is not good.

Well done, school system, well done... why did we have to take that term of health in high school again? oh right people are scared of stds... so much for other aspects of health...

(btw lets not mention that its much cheaper to eat poorly... that's a different issue all together)

Sunny
08-27-2008, 11:12 AM
sadly this is really true. Even in "super health aware" humboldt or in certain trendy healthy places in the bay area or down in socal, people are kind of stupid when it comes to healthy. My favorite are people who skip two meals a day, eat a Ton for dinner, or say they're just having a salad then drench it in ranch...


that reminds me of someone i know who eats turkey burgers because they're healthy, but puts a big dollop of butter on top of the meat to make it more moist.