The Huffington Post has a piece up today about how much companies lose each year in revenue and productivity due to employees being obese (funny how it doesn’t seem to bother HuffPo when companies lose money to burdensome regulations, high corporate taxes, healthcare mandates, etc.).
The article is just another way in which the popular media is demonizing the obese and continuing the narrative that overweight and obese people are lazy, dim-witted, sloths who lack any sort of self-control. Of course, this is nothing new. The portrait being painted of overweight Americans isn’t just coming from the media–officials at every level of the Obama administration promote this inaccurate information.
The HuffPo article starts off by saying that “overweight or obese full-time workers with other chronic health conditions miss 450 million more days of work each year than would healthy workers.”
First of all, I love how the writer slips in that phrase “other chronic health conditions” like it’s no big deal. Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if an individual (thin or fat) suffers from chronic health condition, that person might miss a few extra days of work. Obesity probably has very little to do with their day off.
Of course, what the author is implying is that these conditions are caused by the weight, but that simply isn’t true. In fact, research shows that weight has very little to do with developing chronic disease. Rather, it’s activity. According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, obese individuals that are active actually have lower morbidity and mortality than normal weight individuals who are sedentary. In other words, the health risks of obesity are largely controlled if a person is physically active. It is therefore irresponsible to suggest all obese people are deathly ill and a burden on business.
In addition, the author lumps both overweight and obese workers into the same statistical heap. Now there again, we have a really important distinction. Overweight and obese are two totally different conditions. In fact, studies show that people that are slightly overweight live longer and have less health problems that people of normal and low weight. And let’s remember how the government measures weight—using BMI, a well known bad determiner of health. BMI measures weight alone without considering muscle versus fat.
For a good example of how BMI is a dead wrong on health, take a look at who is considered overweight by the government’s standards: Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, George Clooney and Matt Damon, to name a very handsome few.
HuffPo goes on to detail some of the “programs” state and local government officials are starting to combat fat. Oy!
State and local governments around the country are increasing their focus on wellness as part of an attempt to decrease medical and productivity costs. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder held an Obesity Prevention Summit in the state’s capitol last month, according to annarbor.com. Experts estimate that that if obesity continues to rise at its current rate, it will cost Michigan $12.5 billion in medical costs in 2018.
Los Angeles County launched a campaign earlier this month called RENEW LA, which aims to reduce obesity rates by educating the public about the health consequences of sugary drinks, Walnut Patch reported. Obese and overweight workers cost the county about $6 million a year in lost productivity.
I have an idea. How about, instead of governors and mayors spending time and taxpayer dollars on all these summits and meetings to hand-wring about their fat citizens, why don’t they take a little time to actually read the research.