Employees may soon be paying higher health insurance premiums for not meeting their employer’s health requirements.
One survey said 40 percent of major US firms would begin surcharging workers who fail to meet health requirements, such as weight loss goals and quitting smoking, in 2014. By 2015, two thirds of large companies are expected to implement the similar surcharges.
Currently, employees at 5,000 companies with such wellness guidelines have to measure up if they want full coverage.
According to a report from the Obesity Action Coalition, 67 percent of employees at these companies had to meet a weight-related health goal, but 60 percent of them received no coverage for the dietician counseling, fitness training, obesity drugs or bariatric surgery that might help them reach that goal.
"Weight requirements are an effective way to make it harder for people with obesity to qualify for full health coverage," said study author and founder of Conscienhealth Ted Kyle.
"Some programs can verge on discrimination," he said.
State employees in Washington and Wisconsin might pay $600 more per year for health coverage. Nonunion works at UPS could pay as much as $1,800 more, Reuter reported.
Under Obamacare, employees receive up to 20 percent of their health costs if they participate in health programs, like maximum body mass index, cessation, or voluntary screenings.
"We found that while less than 10 percent of workers at large employers smoke, their impact to healthcare costs is disproportionately huge," said vice president for the National Business Group on Health LuAnn Heinen. "Helping them quit — however you do that — has the most obvious near-term payoff in terms of savings and productivity gains."
If employees don’t save money through these measures, they are allowed to raise premiums.
While wellness programs are voluntary under the law, employees don’t feel like they have a choice, said Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute.
"In today's job market, any reasonable request by one's employer is essentially read as a demand,” Maltby said.
Studies have shown that food stamps, despite the predominance of media reports portraying recipients as lazy freeloaders, are a highly beneficial program — not only for the people who need and receive benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but for the country as a whole.
Especially in a recession, the economy needs people to spend money, not save it. Because people need to eat, SNAP benefits are spent and spent quickly, pumping needed cash back into the economy.
But are food stamps good for the waistlines of people who need them? A Washington Post story published over the weekend says no — or tries to. The story zeroes in one Texas county in which 40 percent of residents require food assistance.
Food stamps translate into cheap food, and cheap food can easily mean fatty, sugary, high-calorie food. The county has twice the national average rate of obesity and diabetes, the Post says.
"Has the massive growth of a government feeding program solved a problem, or created one?" the story asks.
SNAP benefits were cut nationwide on November 1 of this year, and the Republican-led House of Representatives wants to keep cutting, hoping to kick 3.8 million people off the program. But one advocacy group, the Food Research and Action Center, says that the answer as far as regulating obesity is concerned, is not fewer people on food stamps, but more.
FRAC listed it main recommendations in a recent report. They include, “increasing participation in SNAP; improving SNAP benefit levels so people can afford adequate diets, including healthier foods; promoting fruit and vegetable purchases with SNAP benefits; supporting SNAP use at farmers’ markets and other venues; enhancing SNAP Nutrition Education; and increasing access to healthy, affordable foods in underserved communities.”
In other words, give people more resources to buy better food. And steer them toward healthy foods, because much cheap food is of poor, or even negative nutritional value.
While some studies, such as a 2008 survey by The U.S. Department of Agriculture, have found some correlation between food stamp use and obesity, that correlation is confined to adult women only. Men and children show no increased obesity levels if they receive SNAP benefits.
But FRAC questions even the data pertaining to women. Obesity rates correspond to income and education level, whether food stamps are part of the picture or not. Low-income women tend to have higher rates of obesity, regardless of whether they use SNAP benefits.
Obesity rates are lower among both men and women with college degrees than those who did not go to college.
A New Mexico legislator has voiced concern during a meeting of the Legislative Education Study Committee in Santa Fe that stretching during school physical education activities is really yoga and could possibly introduce children to Eastern religions.
The Albuquerque Journal reports that Ann Paulls-Neal, a teacher at the Albuquerque elementary school, spoke to the committee about student health and obesity.
Paulls-Neal pointed out that to her class exercises are considered stretching or mat work instead of yoga because she doesn't want to give the impression that religion is involved.
Rep. Alonzo Baldonado expressed concern.
The Los Lunas Republican said parents should be notified and given the option to opt out, or their children should be offered alternative activities because yoga is linked to Eastern religions.
State Sen. Bill Soules, a Onate High School teacher in Las Cruces, said he has heard opinions of yoga, about it being based on religion, but said he had never heard of schools using it for anything more than exercise that would make kids stronger and healthier, according to the Farmington Daily-Times.
"It's a concern of the far right," said Soules, a Democrat, who serves on the legislative committee with Baldonado.
Soules said algebra is taught in public schools without any disputes, even though it also had religion-based roots.
Though the hearing ended with arguments about yoga and religion, Paulls-Neal and other teachers brought their worries about obesity in kids to the Capitol.
The head of a nonprofit progressive advocacy group took issue with the questions Baldonado raised at the meeting.
“Of all the things a legislator could focus on to get our public schools back on track, Rep. Baldonado chose this one as his most important,” said Patrick Davis of ProgressNowNM.org. “Even for conspiracy theorists, this one seems far-fetched. How he thinks a rudimentary stretching routine meant to improve physical health could lead students to join a religious cult is beyond me.”
Baldonado said he wouldn't want his own home-schooled children to be exposed to non-Christian practices.
11Overweight Man Forced to Buy Two Plane Tickets To Accommodate Size and Discovers Seats are in Different Rows
It’s pretty normal for an overweight person to have to buy more than one seat on a flight because they can’t fit in just one, but for a 500-pound man flying round trip from Wales to Ireland, the two seats didn’t do him any good.
Les Price, 43, says he was flying to Ireland from Wales when he realized the two seats he purchased were not next to each other. One of the seats was next to the window, and the other was on the aisle. Another passenger occupied the seat in between, so Price had to switch. On the flight back to Wales, Price found out that the seats weren’t even in the same row. One was in row 17, and the other was in row 19.
“When I got to the airport I had to explain to all the staff why I had two tickets, they didn’t have a clue,” said Price. “When I finally got on the plane one was an aisle seat and the other was by the window – in a three-seat row. On the way back from Ireland one seat was in row 17 and the other in row 19.”
Price says that his weight started to get out of control after he injured himself and was forced to be bedridden for three months. Then, after his wife died of cancer in 2009, the situation became much worse.
Now, the man is set to star in BBC’s Live Longer Wales, a television program that chronicles the weight loss journeys of overweight people in Wales, and provides a commentary on the increasing weight problem in the country.
A new campaign launched in New York City aims to boost the self-esteem of young girls and help avoid unhealthy body image problems.
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is helping to spearhead the campaign, called NYC Girls Project, in an effort to let girls as young as 6 or 7 know that they don’t have to look like what they see in the magazines or on television to be considered beautiful.
The $330,000 initiative mostly consists of bus and subway ads featuring young girls of all shapes and sizes saying great things about themselves, with the unifying message that reads, “I’m beautiful the way I am.”
One ad features 12-year-old DeVoray Wigfall of the Bronx with the quote, “I’m a girl. I’m funny, playful, daring, strong, curious, smart, brave, healthy, friendly and caring.”
In addition to the ads around the city, the campaign will also consist of physical fitness classes for girls, a program addressing self-esteem issues for girls at 75 afterschool programs, and an active Twitter account.
Samantha Levine, a 38-year-old aide to Mayor Bloomberg, first thought of the idea. She is currently the deputy press secretary for the mayor, as well as a project director, and says she was moved to take action after hearing stories of young girls getting plastic surgery to alter their appearance.
“I think being a woman in this society,” said Levine, “it’s sort of impossible to not be aware of the pressures there are around appearance, around weight, around trying to always look a certain way.”
The campaign sets out to be the opposite of what many other campaigns are doing to try and end obesity. Instead of “fat shaming,” they say, they are trying to encourage healthy lifestyle choices while make sure girls know that they don’t have to be stick thin in order to be beautiful.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) claims that calling for stricter gun laws in the wake of the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard is like banning spoons to fight obesity.
In an interview with Newsmax’s John Bachman on Tuesday, Gohmert said Congress should be talking about Americat’s mental health crisis, instead of gun control.
“Mental health seems to be playing into the Newtown shooting, the Colorado shooting,” he told Newsmax. “It obviously has an effect, and it’s interesting that these people seem to have a common tie with extremely violent video games. And if they have mental health issues and play extremely violent video games, they seem to have trouble distinguishing between what is reality and what isn’t.”
Gohmert’s position echoes that of Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who said “the left” is trying to use the Navy Yard shooting as an argument for more “gun control” measures, when what we really need is to monitor video game purchases and the amount of time spent playing them.
“I’d be all for everybody keeping their sidearms if they’re in the military and on a military installation,” Gohmert added.
“I see a lot of problems here, and blaming this on guns is like saying the big problem with obesity is we’ve got too many spoons,” he said. “It’s not the spoons, it’s not the guns. It’s the people who have them. There’s a lot of things that need to be done, but one of them is to deal with the mental health of people who have guns.”
A new study is trying to settle the ongoing on whether a person can be both overweight and also perfectly health.
There is such a thing as “fat but fit,” says a study published “The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.”
German scientists say that identifying “metabolically healthy obesity” would allow healthcare professionals to stop giving expensive treatment to a population that’s not at risk.
“Results from several prospective studies show that only obese, unfit individuals, but not obese, fit individuals, are at higher mortality risk than are normal weight fit individuals,” the study said.
Lead author, Professor Matthias Schulze from the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal, said doctors should not be focused solely on BMI.
BMI or body mass index is calculated by dividing one’s weight by the square of their height, indentifying health, overweight, and obese categories.
“It’s obvious that just BMI is insufficient to classify risk,” Schulze said. “That’s nothing new but it’s not received as much attention as it should. There should be a more complex assessment of risk factors.”
He said public health experts need to define this “fat but fit” category to keep them from getting expensive, unnecessary treatments like bariatric surgery.
“In view of the magnitude of the obesity epidemic, stratification of obese individuals, in terms of their risk for obesity-related metabolic diseases, becomes more important for prevention and treatment purposes,” he said.
Schulze warned that obese people should still try to lose the pounds.
“It would be false reassurance to think you’re obese but you feel fine and until now you don’t have high blood pressure,” he said.
Making overweight or obese people feel bad about their bodies does anything but make it easier to drop the pounds. In fact, the narcissistic practice of fat shaming may be making people gain more weight.
A new study from Florida State University College of Medicine found that people who experience body-shaming were more likely to either become or stay obese.
“Participants who experienced weight discrimination were approximately 2.5 times more likely to become obese by follow-up,” said the four-year study, published this week in PLoS ONE.
“The present research demonstrates that, in addition to poorer mental health outcomes, weight discrimination has implications for obesity. Rather than motivating individuals to lose weight, weight discrimination increases risk for obesity."
"Stigma and discrimination are really stressors, and, unfortunately, for many people, they're chronic stressors,” said Rebecca Puhl, deputy director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. "And we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety — that people often engage in more food consumption or more binge eating in response to stressors."
In America, about 70 percent of adults are overweight and more than one third are obese. Last month, the American Medical Associations decided to label obesity a “disease.”
According to the study, internalizing weight-based stereotypes, teasing and other stigmatizing experiences are linked to depression and binge eating. Stress, including heightened public awareness, is also linked to weight gain.
“Weight discrimination, in addition to being hurtful and demeaning, has real consequences for the individual’s physical health,” said study author Angelina Sutin, a psychologist and assistant professor at the Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee, Fla.
“And we know that eating is a common reaction to stress and anxiety -- that people often engage in more food consumption or more binge eating in response to stressors, so there is a logical connection here in terms of some of the maladaptive coping strategies to try to deal with the stress of being stigmatized," Sutin said.
Climbing up those ivory towers may be a lot tougher for obese applicants. Or, at least, this is according to a study done at Bowling Green State University. The study, which followed the applications of 97 students, suggests the admissions process depends on BMI as well as GPA.
These 97 applicants applied to over 950 schools combined. The study found that the obese candidates were less likely to be accepted after being interviewed in-person. Even when letters of recommendation, test scores, and GPA were held equal the heavier of the academic heavyweights were less likely to receive admission.
“The success rate for people who had had no interview or a phone interview was pretty much equal,” says Ph.D. candidate, Jacob Burmeister, “but when in-person interviews were involved, there was quite a bit of difference, even when applicants started out on equal footing with their grades, test scores and letters of recommendation.”
The results also suggest that weight bias is slightly stronger for female applicants.
The research team was not surprised by these findings. They conducted the study in the first place to look for this correlation.
The matter most salient to the study is whether weight discrimination is permissible. To the extent that obesity is a choice, one may argue that such discrimination is acceptable. A university can justify its discrimination on the basis that since it can legally discriminate on the basis of athletic ability, intelligence, and moral character, why not obesity. To the extent that obesity is not a choice, applicants may charge that weight discrimination is as bad as racial discrimination. The matter really comes down to whether obesity is more like a disease or more like a lifestyle.
In the middle of a medical emergency, the amount of time it takes for a patient to be transported to the hospital can be a matter of life and death. With the help of an emergency medical helicopter, a patient has a 33 percent greater chance of surviving than they would if a ground ambulance transported them. However, some patients are simply too large to fly—just about 5,000 each year, according to NBC News.
“Increasingly, America’s growing girth is grounding patients who need emergency help by air,” according to the report. “An estimated 5,000 super-sized patients a year — or about 1 percent of more than 500,000 medical air flights annually in the U.S. — are denied transport because they exceed weight and size limits or because they can’t fit through the aircraft doors.”
It continues, “Experts say the nation’s plus-size proportions — at least two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese — are now forcing emergency medical providers to bolster their fleets, buying bigger helicopters and fixed-wing planes, or risk leaving critically ill and injured clients behind.”
“It’s an issue for sure,” said Craig Yale, vice president of corporate development for Air Methods, one of the nation’s biggest air medical transport providers, to NBC News. “We can get to a scene and find that the patient is too heavy to be able to go.”
According to the report: “Size limits for patients can vary widely depending on the medical transport operators, the types of aircraft, even the day’s weather. At Airlift Northwest near Seattle, crews start to worry about any patient who is heavier than 250 pounds and wider than 26 inches across, said Brenda Nelson, the firm’s chief flight nurse.”
“But other transport firms routinely handle patients who weigh 350 or 400 pounds, or more. At the Duke University Health System, officials with the Life Flight program recently bought two new EC-145 helicopters at a price of between $8 million and $10 million, partly so they could handle patients up to 650 pounds.”
Source: NBC News