I recently finished reading The Fattening of America: How the Economy Makes us Fat, if it Matters, and What To Do About it. It was interesting enough, and I’m not really sure why I enjoy reading books like this, but I just can’t get enough.
It was interesting until the author got to the “What To Do About It” part. Most of the responsibility was put on the shoulders of employers to have a gym on site or to give discounts for off-site gyms, to have healthy snacks in the vending machines etc. Then the author admitted that if there was an on-site gym, it would most likely attract people who were already going to a gym on their own, and really be no more help to the people who actually need it.
Then he got into the system of rewards. Being an economist, he was trying to create an incentive for people who hadn’t previously been exercising and eating right to want to make the change. That’s all well and good, but I can’t help but notice that the people who elect to keep themselves healthy and at a moderate weight always get completely screwed in this.
There are no cash prizes for doing what you’ve always done, and if you don’t need to lose any weight, you can’t collect the $7 per pound of loss that he proposes. Perhaps we’re winners already because losing weight is a trying and difficult process, but if everyone else is getting paid, I want to too.
Same thing goes with The Biggest Loser. The winner gets $250,000 for losing the highest percentage of body weight on national tv. Perhaps watching me eat a sensible dinner and go running isn’t as exciting as watching someone slim down from 500 pounds to 180, swearing, crying, and throwing up along the way, but still, that’s more money than I will ever see in my lifetime.
Over the years I’ve paid thousands of dollars for gym memberships, “activewear”, shoes, and for the privilege of running long distances in front of people. This is insane. My father ran six marathons last year, driving all over the Midwest, paying for hotels and taking off work. A few years ago, he ran out of marathons to run and almost flew to Norway for one– mostly for a change of scenery, instead he went to Iowa.
You could say, “oh Andria, you don’t understand, you’re just lucky, you have good genes.” To that I say: my brother is morbidly obese, and all the people on The Bigggest Loser seem to lose weight with diet and exercise, so really, it’s not like I’m magic.
This is a complaint I’ve had for a long time, and it’s only exacerbated by the fact that I need to buy new running shoes right now, and can’t really afford them– oh bittersweet irony. So I will continue to read books like this, shake my fist and complain to anyone who will listen.