I think the healthcare debate in America centers on a single, core issue: Americans hate fat people.
We think that fat is a choice. Fat is lazy. Fat people should be ashamed of themselves. Fat people get a free ride. Fat people are a drag on our economy, invite heart disease, choose diabetes and will bankrupt our healthcare system.
Is fat a choice? I believe in free will, but I also believe in capitalism. Cheap food turns a profit. Multinational conglomerates create addictive chemical combinations to lure us into consuming cheap and easily digested food. Marketing and advertising agencies tell children to eat fast food but tell adults that we can have it all and lose weight. Wages have been depressed and it’s tough for an American family to meet a budget and pay for adequate housing while consuming healthy food. Yes, you can be relatively healthy and thin in America if you fight the forces of money, power and chemicals. Good luck with that.
Are fat people lazy? I don’t know. I run with dozens of men and women. None of them are models. Quite a few are parents. Almost everyone works or attends school. Most of us cannot and will not sustain this type of workout program throughout our entire lives. But we are doing what we can, right now, to fight the forces of money, power and chemicals. And then we go home and eat cookies. (Oh wait, that’s me.) And most of us live upper middle class lives that make it easier for us to find some balance. (This is why I love Girls on the Run, by the way. You should get involved.)
Do fat people get a free ride? Doesn’t look like a free ride from my perspective. It might seem like there are a lot of fat people on welfare who drive around in Cadillacs in your neighborhood. But the welfare queen — black, fat, lots of kids with different baby daddies — was a myth in the 1980s. And she is a myth today. If it seems like a lot of poor people are fat and lazy, it’s because a lot of Americans are fat. Lazy is subjective.
Fat people are a drag on our economy. Most people are a drag on our economy. Most of us overestimate our economic contributions. And I don’t need a degree in behavioral science to know that most people think they’re more important than they are. I am a blogger. I know.
Fat people invite heart disease, choose diabetes and will bankrupt our healthcare system. From the moment we are born, we are destined to die. The leading causes of death in America may look obesity-related, but they could be related to things like age, genes or even hospital mistakes. And while there is a correlation between obesity and many diseases, causation is often a theory. Does being fat cause colon cancer? Can obesity protect against osteoporosis? Who the hell knows.
I also want to say something serious.
Fat people are not dumb. Many have tried to eat the best food available. They have availed themselves to the best medical technology on the market. And never before has it been cheaper or easier to undergo bariatric surgery, drink supercharged diet shakes and take cheap yoga classes.
People are still fat. And it doesn’t mean they are unhealthy.
Want a better healthcare system? Start working on a better version of America. Stop obsessing about size. Use your grown-up business skills and start thinking about smarter outcomes.