Sunday, August 14, 2011

Obesity Is A Choice, Not A Disease

Something that has become a common sight on streets in the city where I work is the motorized wheelchair. Driving those streets has become much more hazardous since the snow and ice disappeared in the Spring. People zipping along with their heads down watching for obstacles directly in front of them seem not to pay attention to street lights or traffic for that matter. They cross streets in the middle of the block instead of at the crosswalk. I've almost hit one more than once. If they zip out from between 2 parked vehicles as we pull away from a parking spot at the curb, they aren't visible until they clear the cars. Even backing out of shopping center parking spots is a problem since they cut right through the parking lot without any care in the world. Hello??? You aren't driving a Sherman Tank for heaven's sake.

Doctors are ordering these things for their patients in order to give them more independence. They are unable to own cars and have no way other than public transit to go grocery shopping. In an area that is two blocks away from a Tops Market, a JC Penney, a Dollar Tree and Staples, there are three Senior/Low income housing buildings. They account for over 30 of these motorized wheelchairs, and in all but 3 cases, the reasons they exist are health issues caused by obesity. 

Each one of these chairs is paid for by Medicare/Medicaid. Each one of these chairs costs $3000. Add to that the cost of the medications which are necessary to control their various problems, the aide that comes every week to help them shower and keep their apartments clean and we're talking a sizeable chunk of change being spent on people who are not yet old enough for retirement. They are all on SSI or SSD which is paid for by our tax dollars. 

Three times a week I work in one of these buildings where I have the pleasure of watching this money being spent so that these people can cost the system more money down the road. One of these "motorized wheelchair bound" women is less than 40 years old. According to mainstream medicine, it's not her fault that she weighs more than 300 pounds. It's a disease. One which is being contributed to by the mobility she has in her motorized wheelchair. 

She can't afford to buy fruits and vegetables because she buys things like frozen pizza, Hot Pockets, potato chips, cookies, doughnuts, cake and candy. All paid for by food stamps. She just got her chair last month. She couldn't figure out why she was out of food stamps all ready this month. I can. When she had to walk to the store, she didn't go as often so when she ran out of cake and candy, she did without. Going to the store isn't the problem. It's the uphill walk coming home that is. Now she has transportation and can go whenever she wants something. She can't clean her own apartment, but she can go to the store every day now. 

I don't understand, since 33% of our population is obese, why the system enables it to continue? The same system that pays for these motorized chairs will not pay for services of a nutritionist, nor gym memberships. The problem of obesity and the related health issues costs the system major amounts of money, yet none of that money is spent doing anything that will change the problem. Why not? 

I don't know, maybe I'm just jealous. For a little more than half the cost of a motorized chair, I've taken myself from a BMI of 35 to a 29. While I am still overweight, I'm no longer obese. I'm no more or less self indulgent than any other person I know. If I can do it so can anyone else. 

These people can't have these chairs unless a doctor orders it. Maybe we should change the system to make these people on SSI and SSD, be more accountable? I have a brother-in-law with 25% of a functioning heart that keeps himself alive by following doctor's orders. Including a daily walk. Don't tell me these people really need these chairs, I know better. Out of those 30 people in chairs, 27 of them would improve through proper nutrition and exercise. Tools that are readily available to all of them, but they are encouraged to continue with their choices by rewarding them with motorized chairs. Our tax dollars and the Scooter Store at work. Amazing!


  1. Sherry,
    How else are these people to survive? I mean, to go to the grocery and drug store? Without the scooters they would be dependent someone else. Sure exercise and nutriton makes sense but is it a "real" solution for the morbidly obese? Can you imagine trying to do a morning walk carrying 400 lbs? Just climbing a flight of stairs is a challenge for these people.
    I look at it this way - But for the simple grace of God, there go I...


  2. We must get to them before they need the scooters. I have trouble losing weight, but it is a choice not a condition..... It is made easy for overeaters these days.... It is about Choices.....Heide

  3. Sarge,

    In the US, 1 in 3 people are obese. Their direct medical costs amounts to 147 billion dollars annually. Medical care that they need is costing Medicare alone almost $2000 a year more than on an average weight person.

    Our entire system makes it easy for these people to gain enough weight to spend our tax dollars on supporting them through SSI and SSD. During the winter months their AIDES get their groceries and their scripts. However, if they need to get to the doctors office or anyplace they want to actually go, they can move enough to get on a bus. They're getting $3000 chairs that can't be used outside during the winter months.

    It's a choice.

  4. Heide,

    Yeah, you're right, it is a choice. I'd rather eat the doughnut for breakfast than the steel cut oatmeal, but I don't want to end up dead before my time.

    The right kind of nutrition advice, the right kind of movement and I've lost 36 pounds in 9 months. I'm out of the obesity range and down to the overweight stage. It's not easy, but I'm doing it.

    I'm stronger, have more stamina and less pain. A lot less pain.

  5. Did you know that you cannot fire someone who is an alcoholic without a lawsuit? If a person continually shows up to work late or under performs at their job due to an alcohol addiction, they have rights to do so. Alcoholism as well as Overeating are now thought of as diseases. They are addictions, which are due to how the person's brain works, and therefore not their fault.
    I work with a man who is 45 and weighs in at about 450lbs. He can't do much because of his weight, but we the people have payed for him to have his Lap Band installed around his stomach, not once, but TWICE!
    He broke the first one by overeating, and our tax dollars are paying for a second surgery. This is why insurance is through the roof.
    A person who chooses to smoke, knowing the end result needs an operation to remove a lung tumor, they don't have the proper coverage so who pays for it? We do. Again, insurance goes up.
    Eating, smoking, drinking, drugs, these are all diseases, uncontrollable desires that a person supposedly cannot control.
    I don't like it anymore than the next person, but it will never change.
    Good post, I may do something on this topic later in the week.

  6. This has become an epidemic in America. Nowhere on Earth are the people as morbidly obese, less willing to help themselves, or more catered to by a public that (oddly enough) shuns the obese.
    Watching the four hundred pound woman in her motorized shopping cart cruising through Krogers as she pulls down Twinkies, Snickers Ice Cream bars, and Doritos to her cart, I have to remind myself that we have freedom of choice in America. That same individual can buy a quart of vodka and a carton of Viginia Slims on her way home, too, and it's none of my business.
    But I can't drive to the same store without properly buckling my seat belt. I can't buy an ounce of marijuana for personal use in the privacy of my own home in this land of the free without risking jail time. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is against the law, 'cause your medical expenses are a drain on society.
    We're here to help.
    We'll subsidize section eight housing for folks who are perfectly capable of fending for themselves, simply because they can convince a doctor they have anxiety attacks, or mental issues that mysteriously clear up the minute they want to travel for something fun.
    I'll defend social programs and welfare for the needy until I die, and I'm as progressive as anyone alive. But to watch the systemic abuse going on around us, it's easy to understand how the conservanazis thrive... We are enabling a generation of people who have no intention of helping themselves or others.
    How do we begin to correct this?

  7. RM,

    Firing an alcoholic is tricky. It's a violation of the American's With Disabilities Act. However, if the lateness and underperformance is documented as affecting business. If employee is requested to participate in a treatment program, is offered help and fails to comply, the attending documentation takes care of the lawsuit. The same can be done for all of these so called diseases.

    We no longer hold people accountable and that is a major part of societies problem.

  8. Squatlo,

    We need to overhaul the entire system and help people become accountable for their problems.

    This nation can no longer afford to pander to the lazy. I don't want to see anyone left homeless, but there is nothing that says the government HAS to give them more than rent, utilities, food and medical care. And make them seek treatment in order to receive their assistance. It's one thing if they're collecting SS or are getting SSD for something other than an obesity related disability. If they're too fat to work, then make them accountable and stop making it so easy for them to lay around and eat like that.

  9. Sherry:

    "Each one of these chairs is paid for by Medicare/Medicaid. Each one of these chairs costs $3000."

    That's why they cost $3000.

  10. Whit,

    Yes, because they bill Medicare/Medicaid they sell the more expensive chairs to these people. Of course, it needs to be a heavier weight chair than someone of average weight would need.

  11. Sherry, I post on this not long ago. I agree - I dont give a rat's ass about "tax payer money" for after all we are dumping billions in two unnecessary wars, and have military stationed all over the globe - but I find it an affront to see people (mostly women) to big to walk - riding around the supermarkets buying more food. Since when did over eating become a fucking disease?
    the Ol'buzzard