Friday, January 4, 2008

Hey Fatso!!

I’m going to rant about the obesity “problem” that we’re told we have. So first I’d best apologise up front to anyone reading this that has one of the very few genuine medical conditions that may cause clinical obesity. No, an addiction (if you can call it that) to eating doesn’t count!

It’s true, I used to be fat. I wouldn’t have called myself obese, but measured by today’s standards I would have been, and quite seriously so. I didn’t really want to lose the weight, l didn’t consider myself to be unhealthily fat after all and besides, I was lazy. But I did and there was a very good reason for it.

Back in the day, there were no anti discrimination laws concerning fat lard-asses like I was, so most places I went, I copped it. Sometimes I copped it pretty hard, but the fact of the matter was that I was a fat lard-ass, so I also copped it sweet. Eventually however, I got sick of being called “lard-ass” and worse so I lost a bit of weight. About 4 stone in fact. I’ll let the whipper-snappers out there work out what that is in kilos, I don’t care because I don’t know how much a kilo weighs. I do know however, what an ounce weighs in my hand and that there’s 16 of them in a pound, 14 of which you’ll need to make a stone. So there! Oh yeah, my misspent youth taught me that there’s 28 grams to an ounce. That should help.

Anyway, I digress
From The Age:

OVERWEIGHT people should be rewarded by private health funds with frequent flyer points and gym vouchers if they successfully undertake a monitored diet and exercise program, a leading health economist has said.

A health economist? What the hell is that? Someone that’s fat, unhealthy and suitably embarrassed? Alas no, it’s just a glorified insurance salesman, which is a pity really, it’s a catchy title.

But what I’d really like to know is why the lard asses of this world should be offered any incentive other than a sound beating with a stout stick, metaphorical or otherwise. It worked for me and it worked good. I lost the weight in my 20’s and am now in my 40’s, still slim and still able to ride my push bike 100 miles (160km. I know that one because my odometer does both…:)) or more if I feel like it.

But wait, there’s more:

In Britain, health insurers have reportedly slashed premiums, offering discounts of up to 75% for members who go to the gym and watch their weight.

75% eh? Not bad. Hopefully they’ll do the same over here. I’ll watch my weight all the way to a 75% discount, even if I have to go to a gym to do it, mark my words. It ain’t that bad being fat and I love to eat!

But:

Australian legislation prohibits using premiums to discriminate in this way under the community rating system, but health funds could still provide incentives, Paul Gross, director of the Institute of Health Economics and Technology Assessment, said yesterday.

Institute of Health Economics and Technology Assessment? Damn! This get’s more complicated the more I read. Which technology needs to be assessed for fat? Kitchen technology? I guess there are some pretty wiz-bang appliances out there these days and you might do yourself an injury.

But there goes my cheap insurance. A gym membership I can live without but if I was big enough to have to buy two tickets, then I guess the points might come in handy.

But seriously, all this is complete bullshit because as I said, the only incentive needed here is the stout stick of public disapproval. Remove the fat clause from the anti-discrimination laws and make it legal once again to insult fat people in various and amusing ways, just for being the gluttons that they are and that I was. Or perhaps we should think about NOT offering them health insurance. Offering someone an incentive like that just doesn’t work. I’d fatten myself all the way to my 75% discount and stay there so I could keep it. It’s easy for me, I have a slow metabolism. More exercise just means more food and even though I can’t find any info about when they stop the incentive I reckon I could keep my 75% discount for life, no worries.

And no. I didn’t have a thyroid problem or any other medical issue that caused it and neither do the vast majority of fat people out there. But if you are seriously overweight, and my 4 stone was enough to cause it, then it’ll be adult onset diabetes for you unless you do something about it. When that happens, as it will, you’ll either have to observe a very strict diet or inject insulin daily, you’ll slowly lose your eyesight, your feet will turn numb and eventually become useless, leaving you in a wheelchair, your organs will slowly fail, one by one and you will die a young and very uncomfortable death. I ask you, do you really need any other incentive than that?

13 Comments:

Dikkii said...

Plonka, the only problem with removing the discrimination laws from private health insurance is that our private health insurance policies would soon resemble those in the US.

Having seen Sicko, I'm fairly certain that the Australian electorate wouldn't tolerate fully underwritten private health insurance policies for very long.

We only tolerate it on life insurance (death/TPD/trauma/income protection etc) because the Australian public is woefully financially illiterate and chronically underinsured.

Public shame should be increased on overweight people, but removing discrimination based on, for example, BMI for private health insurance premiums is the thin edge of the wedge. I don't see benefits for anyone other than shareholders in insurance companies in such an approach.

tina said...

Ok, you got me. I'm going downstairs to walk on my treadmill, actually it's my daughters, wouldn't fit into her small house, no room.
I'm glad I stopped by here, I'm not overweight, but I don't want to be either. It's freezing outside so the treadmill will come in handy.

Plonka said...

Dikkii: Public shame should be increased on overweight people

This is exactly what I mean about the discrimination laws. I don't think we should remove them as far as the insurance goes. The article I didn't link to (Duh!) was about discrimination against non overweight people.

removing the discrimination laws from private health insurance

I smoke and am offered DISincentives from insurance companies to give it up. Premiums and excesses costs more with certain policies if you smoke. That's descrimination Dikkii. So let's do the same for fatso.

But really, we just need to be able to hurl a few amusing anecdotes occasionally with impunity like we used to. It was public shame that caused me to lose it all and it works.

Back then, about 10% of our population were what we call "obese" today. The "fat is beautiful" campaign ran throughout the 80's and weight was added to "race or religion" in discrimination legislation. Since then, obesity has become a major issue with a reported 60% of young'ns being diagnosed as "grossly overweight".

It sounds bad, I know. But if you look at the figures it seems that insults work.

Plonka said...

Tina:

I was gonna say! I've seen the piccies and you ain't fat by any means.

Keeping it off is easy too. It's calories in vs. calories out. Food = exercise and you don't need to do much extra if you eat healthy. Too easy...:)

Dikkii said...

Interesting:

I smoke and am offered DISincentives from insurance companies to give it up. Premiums and excesses costs more with certain policies if you smoke. That's descrimination Dikkii. So let's do the same for fatso.

1. My apologies, I thought that we were talking about private health insurance here, where such premium differentials are illegal. Or if we were, which fund are you a member of, Plonka?

Discriminating between applicants on the basis of smoking history is not illegal for life insurance, so I suspect that you might be confusing the two.

With regards to life insurance, I'll just re-iterate what I wrote before:

We only tolerate it on life insurance (death/TPD/trauma/income protection etc) because the Australian public is woefully financially illiterate and chronically underinsured.

...and this includes discriminating on the basis that one may or may not be a smoker. Life insurance? Yes. Private health insurance? No.

2. "Premiums and excesses costs more with certain policies if you smoke. ...which is an incentive to quit, is it not? You wrote "disincentive".

Smoker: I see that my insurance premiums would be cheaper if I quit. So I will.

Quitter: I've become a non-smoker. So now I get the non-smoker's rates. So much cheaper than what I was getting when I was a smoker

Non-smoker: I pay so much less than smokers. Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyaaaah.

Etc.

The article I didn't link to (Duh!) was about discrimination against non overweight people.

I've heard this argument before. It's like Pauline Hanson's one about how whites should get non means-tested educational handouts on the basis of their race only otherwise you have discrimination because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders enjoy this privilege.

Or how people who send their children to private schools should enjoy a tax rebate otherwise they're being discriminated against relative to parents of government school students.

The fact is that financially, overweight and non-overweight applicants are being treated the same. Ceteris paribus, this is the simplest (but not the only) test to see if discrimination exists, and it does not.

Look I agree, non-overweight people would be better off financially if private health insurance premiums could vary according to BMI. But again, this is the thin edge of the wedge. What else are you going to allow private health insurers to discriminate on the basis of?

But I support your public shame angle. I could do with losing a few kilos myself.

Plonka said...

Dikkii:

You're right, I was confusing the two. Apologies...

the Australian public is woefully financially illiterate

Yes, as my next article attests...:)

Non-smoker: I pay so much less than smokers.

I've heard this argument before. It's like Pauline Hanson's one

Not really. In this instance we're talking about the smoker/quitter getting a 75% discount as an incentive to quit on the same policy as the non-smoker. I'm a smoker who's "quitting" (which will take me a looooooong time), so ner nerny ner ner, Mr. Non-Smoker...;)

The fact is that financially, overweight and non-overweight applicants are being treated the same.

Correct. I didn't say it was happening here now, the 75% discount thing is reported as happening in Britain. It's just that our friendly health economist thinks we should do it here.

Look I agree, non-overweight people would be better off financially if private health insurance premiums could vary according to BMI. But again, this is the thin edge of the wedge. What else are you going to allow private health insurers to discriminate on the basis of?

Man. I don't seem to be able to get my point across at the moment and it doesn't seem to matter who I'm talking to. I think the silly season rubbed off this year...

But this is what I meant. I don't want the overweight to get a 75% discount, just because they're overweight. Especially if it's on the same policy I don't get a discount on, and that seemed to be what the article (at The Age) was suggesting. That's discrimination against the slim. The point was that we shouldn't allow it to happen here.

But I support your public shame angle. I could do with losing a few kilos myself.

I just think that as long as society is forced to accept it as "normal" we'll have a problem. And couldn't we all. I haven't been on the bike much recently and I've been very festive this year. I've gained weight and lost muscle, not good...

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

Yeah, I got fat myself. Mostly because I drank lots of cheap beer and ate lots of shitty fast food (like all broke-ass college students are wont to do).

When I graduated high school, I was 175 lbs. of (mostly) muscle. I have no idea what that would equate to in metric, because I'm an asshole American and we see such ridiculous measurements as the yardstick of Satan.

"Goddamn! Don't them damn Frenchies use that there met-ric system? That shit don't even make sense! And y'all measure weight in stones? I gots a bunch of stones in my yard what weigh different pounds!" (Though I'm trying to be funny, I swear to the Freedom Eagle and Apple Pie that someone in America has said that, word for word.)

Though I managed to get up into the 220's (which gave me lots of "face-fat" and a beer belly) I've since shed some of the pounds and, now, I'm (slightly) below the 200 mark and still working on it.

Of course, I was never "obese," (and when I say I got "fat," that's relative) but I'd still feel insulted if I was ever given special treatment just on the account of my weight. Unless, of course, it's an unavoidable medical problem (National Geographic had a program on a guy who, no matter how much he exercised or dieted, continued to gain weight).

America, as most people have heard, has a pretty serious obesity problem and, unfortunately, it's mostly a lifestyle problem.

And it's entirely avoidable.

Thus, I can somewhat agree with your point, "the only incentive needed here is the stout stick of public disapproval."

As much as I hate to fuck with someone's self-esteem, sometimes you just need to tell people to get healthy before they die.

One friend of mine went for the whole gastro-intestinal surgery deal, and, as can be expected, she got thin. But that's a pretty scary elective surgery with various side-effects.

Another friend, who topped 300 pounds, simply took the time to eat right, exercise, and take care of herself.

She lost well over 100 pounds (and now weighs less than I do) and looks fucking amazing. Especially compared to my pudgy ass.

And rewarding people for taking care of themselves (like everyone should, myself included) is ridiculous. Why don't we just give Keith Richards more money because he stopped snorting coke after thirty-some-odd-years?

Man... It's still a touchy issue, though, ain't it? Like terrorists. Rotund terrorists...

Plonka said...

we see such ridiculous measurements as the yardstick of Satan.

Lol...:) We adopted it here in 1973 I think. I was unlucky enough to have just finished learning all my weights and measures the year before and never really did get the hang of metric weights. Measurements didn't seem to be a problem though.

And y'all measure weight in stones?

Yeah. 14 pounds is a "stone", just like 22 yards is a "chain". Don't you guys use those? I guess we don't either but somehow, I still do...

As much as I hate to fuck with someone's self-esteem, sometimes you just need to tell people to get healthy before they die.

Rev, I couldn't agree more and it isn't really a difficult thing to do. I felt so much better once I got fit I wondered why I ever let myself get fat in the first place.

It's still a touchy issue, though, ain't it?

Oh yes indeedy. I reckon it's because there are self esteem issues involved.

Do rotund terrorists make better bombs?

Anonymous said...

4 stones! Poor you. You were truly horrendous weren't you. -bah- The fatties you are talking about usually have 5-6 stones to drop, if not more.

Unfortunately, humiliation hasn't worked for me. I wish that's all it would take to get me off my sorry fat ass.

Instead, when I'm publicly shamed, which happens a couple times a week, I go home and I hide, often in the dark, curtains pulled tight. When I want to go outside for a walk, 5 times out of 10, I don't have the self esteem left inside, I'm too scared that someone will see me and make a nasty comment. I often refuse invites from friends, especially if I'm not up to facing potentially awkward situations like not fitting into a side booth or getting judged by strangers at the park. There's no joy like being taunted in public while out with friends or coworkers.

That being said, insurance _should_ discriminate against not taking care of your health. I don't know if that should be done through gym membership use (what about home yoga practitioners, people who run, surf, climb bouldery things in the hot outback)... or through annual health assessments where the doctor pokes at you, quizzes you and feeds back your annual test results to the big men in suits.

Diabetes, not having children, shame, they've just made me scared, isolated and alone. So if you have a fat friend, give them a hug, call them out for a walk, a game of net ball, cricket or frisbee for Christ sake. Please do _not_ invite me out for pizza, beer, sugary coffee, or other food related activities.

Oh! if you do invite us out to do something active, please be patient. Us fatties, haven't used our eye/hand coordination skills for more than computer games and flipping omelettes in a long time. Finding someone who will work with us to get us from fat to less-fat, to not-so-fat is near impossible. Getting out there all alone, can be scary.

Plonka said...

Anon: Thanks for stopping by...:)

That being said, insurance _should_ discriminate against not taking care of your health.

I could agree with you if the discrimination was to stop insuring unhealthy people. Making it cheaper for unhealthy people will only create more unhealthy people and it's the healthy that have pay to support it and that's just wrong!

If everything you've said, from your lack of self esteem to diabetes, no kids, etc. isn't enough incentive for you, as you also said, then there is no incentive strong enough to help you. You made yourself fat, only you can make you slim, so get of your "sorry fat ass", as you put it, eat less and exercise more, it's really not that hard.

You know, there's a woman in this country (not sure of her name) that was so ashamed of her size that she refused to leave the house and what she did about it was inspiring.

Alone every day, she'd walk around her clothes line. She could only manage about 5 minutes at first, but she was soon up to an hour. She lost enough doing that, that she regained her confidence and started walking in the street. She now runs a weight loss camp that has astounding results.

So get out there lardo, endure the stares and comments and remember that once you've got diabetes, it's with you for life and that means an early death!

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