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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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