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Don't Be Sold on the Very First One

Monday, October 15, 2012


I have been thinking recently about the economics of obesity and weight loss.

At about the size 14 mark (up to size 18, depending upon the company), women's clothing suddenly turns about 10 - 25% more expensive. Now, truth be told, additional fabric is needed. And fabric is not free. I get the economics of this although it does not thrill me.

Larger automobiles cost more - and they often get worse gas mileage. Again, more sheet metal = more expenses. And that lowers fuel efficiency. Plus obesity lowers fuel efficiency. The same articles that tell you to take the junk out of your car's trunk in order to improve gas economy are often too polite to tell you to get the junk out of your own trunk. For gasoline efficiency does not care whether the extra 20 pounds comes from a pair of lounge chairs that are living in your car because you're too lazy to move them into your shed, or if it comes from a year's worth of Taco Bell.

Obesity can mean increased insurance costs, as your risks are higher. Insurance companies do not care whether your increased risk comes from cigarette smoking, living near an oil refinery, taking up sky diving as a hobby or that same per annum consumption of Taco Bell. They just make their actuarial calculations and you can come up short, and end up paying through the nose.

Yet, paradoxically, larger portion restaurants often cost less. And higher calorie foods (often the result of some serious processing) can also cost less. Funny, isn't it, that a lovely pound of apples which have had little done to them other than growth and harvesting can often cost more than a premade apple pie? Or a place that prides itself on its giant portions is dirt cheap, whereas a restaurant where everyone complains about portion size is often on the high end of things. Any size coffee - $2.69! Why the hell WOULDN'T you buy the biggest cup you could get? And cream and sugar are free. Why the hell WOULDN'T you load up on them as well?

It's an interesting dynamic, the push-pull of our culture when it comes to weight loss, dieting and obesity.

We recognize that we, as a nation, are getting fatter. We know we need to make better choices. We know we need to drive less and eat less and walk more and drink more water. Yet when it comes to that, we stymie ourselves at every turn. We make water hard to get (And public restrooms? Fuggeddabboutit!). We are plied with tons of cheaply made, mass-marketed, processed food for cheap. We are punished for our dietary choices with expensive clothing and the like. Yet we are rewarded for them with inexpensive food and billion dollar advertising campaigns and what is almost crack in that food, all to train our brains that it is delicious and addictive and we can't get enough of it.

We need to get off that train, people. We need to vote - with our wallets, and our feet, and our taste buds, and even our ballots.

Up with health!

Down with the paradoxical insanity!

Who's with me? I gotta find a castle to storm! Let's go storm a castle*!

*Er, maybe not a White Castle, okay?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Interesting analysis! Thanks.
    3101 days ago
    emoticon emoticon
    3104 days ago
    I sometime hear people say you can buy healthy without it being expensive. I would like to know what store they go to because all the ones I go to the healthy stuff costs the most.I could cut my grocery bill in half if I bought high fat high calorie food.
    3106 days ago
    I'll bring the torches!

    This push-pull you wrote about is something that just chaps my hide! Watch any given TV commercial break and you'll have a Victoria's Secret spot ("Be Skinny!), followed by a Dove Chocolate Bar commercial ("Eat up, America!"), rounded out with Jennifer Hudson telling me "It's a New Day" ("Who told you you could eat Dove Bars, fatty?").

    It's exhausting. And while I get it that it's not the advertiser's responsibility to send out a positive nutritional message to the chunky masses, there's got to be some way to get people off this one-extreme-or-the-other rollercoaster!

    True story: I went to the movies last night and was drinking from a large bottle of water when I walked in (trying to get my 8 glasses in before the end of the night, don'tcha know). I was not permitted to enter with my water because they wanted me to buy one of the itty-bitty bottles of water that they sell for $3.50 at the concessions stand. Funny thing is, they sell giant vats of soda, sodas the size of my head, literally, for $3.00.

    You buy the water, you drink it in the first five minutes of the movie and then have to spend another $3.50 for a second bottle to offset the salty popcorn.
    You buy the soda, you'll be sucking on that thing until the end credits, and won't have to miss a minute of the movie.

    It's that push-pull again, where what makes sense economically doesn't make sense nutritionally, and where convenience trumps health.

    I bought the damn soda. I threw out most of it after the show.

    I'm in. Let's storm the castle, with movie theaters next!

    3106 days ago
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