www.na The Pilates Body: Solving the Obesity Battle: Subsidized Health Club Memberships and Nutritional Counseling

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Solving the Obesity Battle: Subsidized Health Club Memberships and Nutritional Counseling

Billions of dollars are spent each year on obesity-related illnesses, but the situation continues to worsen. Ideas circulate the nation attempting to solve this crisis; trendy diets and fitness machines claim to give people the body they always wanted. With so many options, one would think every American would be in great physical shape--or at least weigh the recommended weight for their height. This, unfortunately, is not the case.

The only way to beat the obesity battle is to provide better information and access to Americans. While some people, along with Jimmy Moore of blog Livin La Vida Low Carb, argue the epidemic is not a product of affluence or poverty, there is evidence that the less fortunate do not have the same options as those of financial stability. Says Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, "If we're urging people to walk more, and their streets are not safe, that's an unrealistic expectation." Americans living in upper-middle class neighborhoods feel safe taking walks, unlike those living in urban areas with high crime rates.

If employers and health insurance companies included nutritional counseling and health club memberships in their policies as Kevin Freking suggests in his posting The Real Skinny: We're Getting Fatter Everywhere, people would be better informed about what they put in their bodies, and they would have the opportunity to exercise safely on a daily basis. Additionally, if the companies provided incentives for employees and carriers participating in fitness and nutrition routines, Americans would be much more successful at losing weight.


At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Jimmie Moore said...

I still hear UNFUNDED MANDATE screaming in my ears or the BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU mentality that the federal government would bring to the table if they got involved in this issue. But even to the point of simply asking companies to provide these incentives, how many people will use them, Meredith?

I work for a pretty major company and you saw the percentage of people who never take advantage of their free gym membership. How much money is WASTED by companies trying to do something positive for the health of their employeees because they do not appreciate what they are getting? I keep waiting for the day when the benefits department sends out a notice telling us they are discontinuing the YMCA membership because of lack of participation and budget cuts. That day is coming sooner than later.

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Currently there is an act floating through congress, its the WHIP act. This would allow for employees to take advantage of subsidized gym memberships without having to pay fringe benefit income taxes. This bill needs your help, go to IHRSA and find out more.

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people would do it in the face of these new - um - interesting employment policies that threaten to have people fired if they don't bring down their blood pressure, or whatever.

I also think there would be greater incentive if
1) people felt that the "gym" environment was a friendlier one (how many people you know that hated gym class as children, because they were not among the optimally coordinated or overly competitive, are going to want to replicate that experience? It's not just about science and numbers, which I think a lot of "experts" ignore; and
2) people felt that they wouldn't be penalized for LEAVING THE OFFICE TO GO TO THE GYM. If I'm not mistaken, Jimmy, the blog is your pretty-much full-time job now, so you have a lot more flexibility in your schedule than the average overweight or deconditioned office worker. That's a huge issue in current America.

Also, I'd grab onto it like a SHOT if an employer paid for a nutritionist. There are greens I don't even know about (purslane? bok choy? Who knew?) that I haven't had time to research in terms of nutrition and availability because I already HAVE TWO FULL TIME JOBS (my job, and family management).

I'd like to know from the other Anonymous what happened with that bill. I'd also like to talk to this Pilates instructor at some point about whether she and her fellow instructors are involved in supporting and sponsoring that bill, as well as about a couple of other ideas circling in my head (I'm in NYC).


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