Kim Fenske: Olympian obesity
The United States Winter Olympics Team was healthy enough to earn a heavy load of medals last month. However, many of these top athletes would not qualify for a health benefit award based on Body Mass Index (BMI).
Weighing 203 pounds, standing 6’2,” Bode Miller won gold, but his BMI of 26.1 disqualifies him from wellness benefits. Based on “normal” BMI criteria of 24.9, other Olympian winners who are overweight or obese: Seth Wescott, 27.3; Jeret Peterson, 26.5; Andrew Weibrecht, 29.9; Steven Holcomb, 31.6; Justin Olsen, 29.2; Steve Messler, 27.8; and Curtis Tomasevicz, 30.6.
At least 24 gold medalists from the 2004 Summer Olympics also join this list of althletes who are considered overweight or obese against the BMI standard. Of course, all of the athletes reside in countries where health care benefits are not based on their BMI, except for sprinter Shawn Crawford, 26.0, from the United States.
Under the BMI criteria, two-thirds of citizens in the United States are overweight or obese. The poor health condition of these citizens allegedly costs $147 billion a year. Contrary to this conclusion, a Swedish study of participants revealed that Olympic athletes with lean BMI were almost twice as likely to suffer recent illness compared to those with higher BMI, leading to at least higher short-term health care costs.
According to a recent North Carolina study, 43 percent of all deaths are unnecessary. North Carolina researchers conclude that the secret to a 5-pound annual weight reduction for the obese citizen on the road to immortality is an 18 percent tax on junk food. If the evil of the next millennia is fat, then the penalty of sin can presumably be shifted to the fat-pushers rather than punishing the health care insurers, providers and patients.
Aside from possible objections from food producers, retailers, restaurants, and a few diners, a wellness tax on fat could be implemented on the basis of a dime per gram of fat in any food item. The proposed tax would add $4 to the price of a bacon cheeseburger; $2.70 on an order of large fries; $9.60 for a pound of pork sausage; $5.10 on a vegetarian pizza; $3.60 on a box of breaded fish; $7.80 for a bag of tortilla chips; $3.20 on a box of cereal; and $44.80 on a pound of butter. Such a wellness tax will either raise enough revenue to provide health care for all Americans or create a lean citizenry with BMI that achieves the wellness standard.
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