Talk of the fiscal cliff and ObamaCare makes me worry about my overweight friends. I fear it’s only a matter of time before they are blamed for dragging down the economy. Obesity is a huge expense, and unlike other costly health problems, obesity is in plain view.
Today, just over one third of Americans has a Body Mass Index of 30 or more, the obesity range. Per-capita medical spending for those individuals is 150 percent higher than for those who are not obese. The Institute of Medicine and other experts estimate the United States spends between $150 and $190 billion a year on obesity-related problems. Spending is driven by prescription drugs and medical procedures for heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and the other chronic diseases of obesity and by days missed from work and the long-term disability that commonly occurs. When public funds from Medicare and Medicaid pay the bill, everyone is impacted, but even when public funds are not involved, everyone pays higher insurance premiums to cover the cost.
Few of us realize that the U.S. health care reform law of 2010 (ObamaCare) allows employers to charge obese workers 30 to 50 percent more for health insurance if they decline to participate in a qualified wellness program. A growing number of companies have begun to make obese workers enroll in weight loss programs or pay higher insurance premiums. For instance, state workers in Alabama are subjected to at-work weigh-ins and body fat tests. Anyone with a BMI of 35 or more must attempt to lose weight or have $25 automatically deducted from their paychecks. To opt out of the weigh-ins, one can accept the $25 deduction. (more…)
What a night! Democracy in action kept most of us up very late on a work night as we watched the results come in for president and the various state issues. Many of us woke this morning with a mix of emotions as some of our policies passed and some did not. One issue in particular that kept us on our toes and saddened us this morning was the vote on proposition 37 in the state of California. As it looks this morning, food will not have to be labeled indicating its inclusion of GMOs, genetically modified organisms that require labeling in more than 50 other countries.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on this issue, stating that 94 percent of precincts had reported and by a narrow margin voters said no to GMO labeling. This was a hard blow this morning for those in the yes movement, but those who have fought so diligently on the campaign are remaining optimistic.
“This is only the beginning of consumer enlightenment and transparency in the food supply. We will prevail now,” commented Leah Segedie, a volunteer with California Right to Know and founder of Mamavation.
As it can be with all political issues, it probably came down to money. Those who were opposing the labeling ballot did so by saying that it would cost the consumers more money if foods were forced to label. This side also had big financial backers. The biotech giants who produce GMOs helped contribute to the $42 million the no campaign raised. Companies such as Monsanto, DOW, and even major food companies like Pepsi Co. all chipped in from their deep pockets to make sure the people do not have the right to know what’s in the food they purchase. Some surprising companies have donated to the “no” side as well. Companies we all deem as healthy and natural such as Horizon Organic, Cascadian Farms, and Kashi all have supported the no labeling vote. This really make you wonder about our “health food” companies. (more…)
As we all head to the polls to cast our votes for president today, you should know you’ve been watched. Our actions have been reviewed and categorized by marketing analysts to the point that they say they can predict your vote based on your consumer behavior. Something as insignificant as a tweet about your favorite soda has been documented and analyzed and that affinity for a certain brand has you pegged Republican or Democrat.
If you’re a Diet Dr. Pepper drinker, you’re probably going to vote for Mitt Romney today. If you are a Pepsi drinker, your vote is likely for Barack Obama today. These statistics and so many more have been collected through a task that is called micro-targeting. Tarun Wadhwa reported in The Huffington Post that it became apparent in 2000 that only seven percent of voters were being reached by traditional ads. Something more effective needed to take place, and this is what lead to micro-targeting.
Since our lives are lived so publicly today, thanks to online activity, ads can be delivered to a potential voter based on their personal traits. To accomplish an accurate understanding of voters, tons of facts have been uncovered. As the facts were analyzed, separated, and charted, it became eerily accurate. (more…)
Next week presents so many possible changes for our nation as we mark our ballots. Election day could end with a new president lined up to lead the country. A new president impacts huge issues like the soldiers overseas, foreign affairs, and of course the budget. As you vote next week, you will also be determining smaller issues that affect all of us. Who we vote in as our Commander-in-Chief may change what’s served on a large percentage of Americans’ dinner tables.
Frequently called food stamps, our government has a food assistance program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The program is income based and designed to help those who are financially struggling. According to Politofact.com, one in seven US families are using the SNAP program. Findings from the Food Research and Action Center state that many families struggle to purchase enough nutritious food before the month’s allotment runs out. Many users cannot afford proper foods for healthy meals and actually have to turn to food pantries to supplement their food needs.
If one out of seven families are currently needing the SNAP program and the current benefits are found to be too little to support a family, what can one expect from our primary candidates on this issue?
Valerie Jarrett is the Senior Advisor to the President Obama. She explained in The White House Blog where he stands on the issue of food assistance.
“…When President Obama took office, he enhanced and expanded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The investments we made kept 3.9 million Americans, including 1.7 million children, above the poverty line in 2010. They prevented child hunger from rising, even as poverty and unemployment levels increased in the wake of the economic crisis.”
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported on what former Governor Romney may intend to do about the SNAP budget is he were elected. Richard Kogan and Paul N. Van de Water wrote that Romney would cut entitlement and discretionary program budgets. These cuts would mean a reduction in the funds allotted for SNAP. (more…)
Surely you’ve been hearing the buzz about GMOs by now. As the vote in California is just around the corner, many more groups are talking about this controversial topic. In case you aren’t sure what all the talk is about, the California ballot next month will ask voters to pass a law to require labeling of GMOs, or Genetically Modified Organisms. If you haven’t decided where you stand about this subject, here are 7 facts about GMOs we hope will persuade you to vote Yes on 37.
1. A GMO is a Food with Altered DNA. Before we get too caught up in the details, let’s start at the beginning and define what a GMO is. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Much of our food supply is comprised of these organisms. A genetically modified food is a plant or meat that has had its DNA altered in a lab. Genes from other plants or organisms have been artificially altered to create unnatural compounds in food. This is all done in order to yield larger crops, allow the crop to resist insects, protect against viruses, and tolerate herbicides. This is all done in hopes to create bigger profits and lower costs to consumers.
2. The US is a Global Leader in GMO Crops. According to USA Today, the US leads the world in GMO crop planting. We planted 170 million acres in 2012. That yielded 95% of the country’s sugar beets, 94% of the soybeans, 90% of the cotton, and 88% of the feed corn. (more…)
Let’s hear it for Pizza Hut for trying to turn an already messy election year in to a circus stunt for entertainment. Utterly ridiculous news broke this week when Pizza Hut announced they’d give a large pizza every week for 30 years to the person who dared ask President Obama and Mr. Romney “pepperoni or sausage” during tonight’s town hall debate.
First of all, it’s a blatant disregard for our political system and the serious answers American voters are seeking in tonight’s second and final debate between the two presidential candidates.
As should come as no surprise from a company responsible for a hot dog stuffed pizza, it’s also a gluttonous promotion to keep making our nation fatter. Maybe we should understand more about their health care policies, since Pizza Hut, one of America’s top brands, is also a culprit in our obesity epidemic.
Just a single slice of their large hand-tossed pepperoni pizza has 330 calories, 14 grams of fat and 910 grams of sodium. That’s almost an entire meal’s worth of calories in just one piece of pizza, not to mention the near day’s worth of sodium. Consider most people eat two to four slices at a time and you’re looking at 660 to 1320 calories every week.
The company is now backtracking after meeting with some deserved backlash. A statement said they are taking their “pizza party” online and will ask people to vote online – pepperoni or sausage – and draw one random winner. The winner will still have the option of 1560 free large pizzas (or one every week for 30 years), or a cash equivalent payout of $15,600.
We say take the cash; you’ll need that money otherwise to burn off the four million calories you stand to consume in pizza alone over the next 30 years. (more…)
To some, asking who you’re voting for in this year’s election is seen as an invasion of privacy. However, others are very vocal about who they will be voting for this year. With health care being one of the biggest issues in the election, do you wonder who the doctors will be voting for? According to an MDLinx poll, hospital-based physicians will vote for President Obama while solo practitioners will vote for Mr. Romney.
MDLinx surveyed over 4681 U.S. physicians and asked which presidential candidate they support, and they found the support depended upon their place of employment. President Obama was supported by most hospital-based physicians by a 47 to 37 percent margin, with 12 percent of doctors undecided. But doctors with their own practices prefer Romney by 58 to 28 percent with 11 percent undecided.
Stephen Smith, Chief Marketing Officer for MDLinx, commented on the survey. “Health care has charged to the top of the campaigns’ messaging this year, and U.S. physicians have a lot invested in the direction taken in the next administration.” Also, Smith mentions, “Nearly one-third said that their vote was ‘completely’ or ‘mostly’ influenced by the candidates’ health care policy.”
What exactly are President Obama’s and Mr. Romney’s plans for health care? President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as “ObamaCare,” reforms imposed regulations on private health insurance providers. The act made changes to ensure better coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions and improve coverage for those with Medicare. (more…)
During Friday night’s campaign debate, Joe Biden and Paul Ryan squared off to discuss the nation’s problems and how their administration will solve them. Between focusing on complicated foreign policy issues, moderator Martha Raddatz asked about the future of health care in America: “Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process. Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive?”
The debate got very heated as each candidate has completely different views about how Medicare should be funded. Ryan began his answer with a strong statement, “Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.” He went on to say how the program has helped his family and how he will honor his promise to keep it funded for future generations. He differs from the Obama administration in that he and Romney want to reform Medicare and take $716 billion currently going to Obamacare and give it back to Medicare. Ryan criticized Obama’s plan to have a board overseeing the health care programs.
Biden shot back by appealing directly to seniors to ask themselves if they have more benefits than before Obama came into office. While avoiding major political gaffes during the debate, Biden delivered clear messages about his views, like when he spoke about Republicans, saying, “Their ideas are old and their ideas are bad, and they eliminate the guarantee of Medicare.” (more…)
As her political career has seemingly fizzled, Sarah Palin is taking her complete lack of professional diet and fitness experience and putting it in a book, so she says. In an announcement the former vice presidential candidate made to People, she said, “Our family is writing a book on fitness and self-discipline focusing on where we get our energy and balance as we still eat our beloved homemade comfort foods.”
The Palin family is known well for their love of comfort foods, relying on the culinary favorites of their native Alaska, like seafood, moose chili, caribou, and some fruit. Like most Americans they aren’t above indulging in heavier treats like cream or pecan pies. Even Palin has admitted that a skinny white chocolate mocha is a morning staple for her.
The announcement suggests the family has found a healthy balance of food that works for sustenance that you can simply enjoy. “We promise you what we do works,” she said. We’re not sure of what they do exactly, but pictures posted this week show a slimmer Sarah Palin than we’ve ever seen before. An avid runner for years, she’s always appeared to be fit and trim, but what’s surfacing this week has people questioning a starvation diet. A celebrity news contributor for The Examiner said she “looks downright scary.”
The book at this time seems to be a personal project, as there is no word on whether an actual book deal exists or if a publisher has agreed to take it. Although possible titles are already circulating.
As vice presidential candidates Paul Ryan and Joe Biden battle for the country’s vote, we are looking at the politicians in a different light – that of their physical fitness and personal diets. Will the person who can do the most pushups be the best as second-in-command? Maybe not, but it does say something about them, however you may interpret it.
Congressman Ryan, 42, is well-known for his love of exercise. He is a devotee of P90X workouts, the high intensity DVD program developed by Tony Horton, frequently leading sessions in the capitol’s gym. The grueling sessions range from 60 to 90 minutes, combining cardio workouts, weight training, yoga, and stretching for an extensive training routine that really pushes your body.
Ryan’s rumored six-pack abs have had their own set of scrutiny, with more Google searches of “Paul Ryan shirtless” than “Paul Ryan budget” after the announcement in August that he was running alongside Romney. Out of college, he worked as a personal trainer and enjoys as sport skiing and hiking. If catfish noodling counts as a sport, he does that, too. (more…)