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End Game —

November 5, 2012

Warning: This post reflects the views of Atchka/Shannon and not Fierce, Freethinking Fatties. The subject and nature of this post is apolitical, and deals strictly with obesity-related legislation. Tomorrow we will feature a second political post from a Republican perspective.

November 6th is like my own personal Christmas. I know most people are completely sick of the politics by now, but I can’t get enough. Here we are, two days out from the election and the race is so close, and yet so far away.

Being a Democrat, I’m supremely confident in our chances Tuesday. I really hope we get someone to comment about how the Liberals skew the polls because we’ll know in two days whether that theory holds true. The fact is, I remain confident largely because I put my faith in Nate Silver, master poll prognosticator.

In 2008, Silver accurately predicted 49 out of 50 states, missing Indiana, which went to Obama by 1%. He also correctly predicted every single Senate race. In 2010, he accurately predicted 6 out of 7 Senators, 36 out of 37 Governors, and 55 out of 63 House Representatives.

And as of 1:30 a.m., Nate Silver predicts that this is where the race stands:

So, as a Democrat, I’m feelin’ pretty cocky going into Tuesday. Obama has managed to turn the race back to where it was before the first debate, except in terms of the electoral vote, where he has never recovered 1.1% of the population. But the electoral college seems locked up, which is what really matters.

But we’ll know who’s right in one or two days (but Lord, please, nothing like 2000).

In the meantime, during a recent Editorial Board, we decided to do a mock debate today in honor of the election. Today, I will be representing President Barack Hussein Obama and tomorrow Joanna will stand in for Governor Willard Mitt Romney. The subject? Who will make the best President for fatties because, ya know, that’s what we write about here.

We’re calling it…

I think that on the surface, I am at a huge disadvantage because I have to bite the bullet with Michelle Obama, whose health campaign I find insufferable in it’s current incarnation. And don’t get me started on how she threw the full weight of the office of First Lady behind The Biggest Loser, which I consider to be one of the worst propaganda product to come out of the War on Fat.

So, while I understand a fatty’s reticence to vote for the man whose wife will most likely continue her fat children’s crusade, I think there are some definite redeeming values in a second Obama term for fatties.

First and foremost is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is better known as Obamacare.

To be sure, there are some bitter pills in Obamacare for fatties, including $25 million set aside for the Childhood Obesity Demonstration Project (PDF), which go to programs that “emphasize promising, innovative models and incentives to reduce behavioral risk factors for childhood obesity.”

This is pretty galling, in that it continues to place the focus on fat kids, even though there is an overwhelming amount of research that shows thin kids with unhealthy lifestyles are just as susceptible to hypertension and type 2 diabetes, according to the Pritikin Longevity Center. And major healthcare organizations already promote the idea that it is a child’s growth trajectory, rather than the overall weight of a child, that matters in terms of monitoring health issues.

All of this corresponds with my belief that slowly, but surely, the medical establishment is coming around to accept that making obesity the central focus of our healthcare resources is a waste of time and money. It really helps to have nationally recognized and respected organizations like Pritikin and Seton Healthcare substantiate our claim that focusing on the lifestyle behaviors of all kids, rather than on the bodies of some, will yield greater long-term results.

I may be naive, but I believe that with a concerted campaign, we can nudge Michelle Obama from the anti-obesity crusader that she currently is into an advocate for pediatric Health at Every Size®. And considering Regina Benjamin, the Surgeon General, is already on board with HAES, we have a powerful supporter that can help.

The other troubling aspect of Obamacare is that Medicare and most private insurers will be required to cover the cost of weight loss services recommended by a physician. Weight Watchers already has one foot in the door, having already run a pilot program in Tennessee, and with contemporary research claiming great victories under the program.

The upshot? In order to qualify for reimbursement, the programs must meet the standards of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. And according to Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the nonpartisan think tank Trust for America’s Health, there aren’t many programs meet those standards. In an interview with the LA Times, Levi explained that the Task Force is struggling to find qualifying programs.

The panel acknowledged that one problem with its recommendation was that no studies have shown such intensive programs provide long-term health benefits.

There appear to be short-term ones. Two studies cited by the panel found that patients who received intensive counseling were 30% to 50% less likely to have Type 2 diabetes two to three years later than those who received lighter counseling, drug therapy or both.

But the counseling subjects’ cholesterol numbers barely budged, and changes in blood pressure and waist circumference were, on average, small.

The Task Force even defines weight loss success modestly: “A weight loss of 5% is considered clinically important by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

These facts can bolster our arguments. If the FDA considers a 5% weight loss clinically important, then we can educate patients to know what a realistic expectation of weight loss looks like. Tamping down expectations from the current “sky’s the limit” view of weight loss to a less eye-popping amount, like 10 pounds, means fewer people may make unrealistic weight loss goals that put them at risk for weight cycling.

All of these issues are a matter of educating the public, as well as petitioning those who execute policy, like Mrs. Obama.

As such, I would be more than willing to spend the next four years promoting a more sensible public health policy that focuses on behavior, rather than bodies. And I strongly believe we would have more success with an Obama administration than a Romney administration.

Why?

Even though Republicans present themselves as the party of a hands-off government, it was George W. Bush who appointed the hyperbolic Richard Carmona, who launched the War on Fat in 2004. So it was under Bush’s second term that we saw some of the most radical actions taken against fatties, which included a shift in Medicare coverage for weight loss surgery in disabled adults.

Bush also approved the United Nations Anti-Obesity Plan in 2004 (PDF), after attempting to revise it to emphasize the role of personal responsibility in obesity and to de-emphasize the role of fat and sugar. In other words, it’s not that the low-cost of high-fat, high-sugar foods had an influence on our weights, it’s that we’re all too gluttonous and lazy.

That’s the Republican view of obesity: it’s not the social determinants of health that have influenced our weight as a nation, but our own lack of moral character that is responsible. You can easily take Romney’s 47% comment and transform it into the Republican view of obesity:

All right, there are 36 percent who are obese, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to safe places to exercise, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

Yes, Republicans have a tendency to say, “Stop picking on the fatties.” But it isn’t because they’re concerned about recentering our healthcare resources to positive effect. It is because as far as the Republican Party is concerned, fatties, and the rest of us, are on our own in a culture that has been created in the era of cheap, unhealthy food, as well as the steady degradation of the infrastructure that gives adults and children safe places to get outside and play.

Because as frustrating as it is that Michelle Obama and the Democratic Party have latched onto the issue of obesity, the correlate to that obsession, health, may yield some positive changes for all people.

For instance, significant Federal investment, including Obamacare, is going into community transformation grants, which is, in and of itself, a net positive for all communities. Will it make us thin? Absolutely not, but everyone deserves to have access to safe places where they can get out and get moving, if they so chose. If Romney wins, those grants will be slashed and all community improvements will halt immediately.

Also, Romney promises to repeal Obamacare. There goes your coverage of pre-existing conditions, and with obesity being diagnosed as a disease, you may find it harder to gain health insurance in the near future. Plus, preventative care is free under Obamacare, so even getting basic health screenings to ensure that your blood pressure, blood sugars, and cholesterol is in check will now cost you.

I definitely subscribe to the belief that “we are in this together” is better than “you’re on your own,” and that includes all the weight-based hysteria as well. This past year, we have already seen what happens when fatties mobilize against a negative anti-fatty campaign, when we took down Strong4Life. But what if we proactively began lobbying Michelle Obama to make that slight shift from focusing on fat kids to focusing on healthy kids? What if we made our case as a community that our healthcare dollars would be better spent on emphasizing behavior over weight?

I know it seems like a pain in the ass, and that it would be easier to withdraw Federal support entirely, as would happen under the Romney Administration, but I do not believe that Michelle Obama’s campaign is irrevocably broken. I believe that if we want to see real change in how she, and the rest of the country, addresses us, then we need to fight for it.

Mitt Romney’s hands-off approach may seem superior to Michelle Obama’s maternalism, but by handing the reigns over to the Republican Party at this juncture, we will be throwing the fat baby out with the bath water. Rather than give up on the Obamas and surrender to the misleading conservative mantle of “personal responsibility,” let’s take some personal responsibility now and work to change Michelle Obama’s view on what the children of America really need.

UPDATE

Don’t forget to vote for President of the Fatties.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    November 5, 2012 5:24 pm

    At least Obama believes in a social safety net, the ACA is proof of that. Whereas Romney, if he could have his way, would dismantle every social safety net that exists, telling us we should pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, even if we don’t have boots to begin with. He’s a cold, cruel, callous individual who doesn’t deserve to hold any public office.

    • November 6, 2012 9:51 am

      That’s what the modern Republican party is all about: dismantling the safety net. The greatest period of wealth and security in this country came after the New Deal. If government spending was going to destroy the country, it would have happened after World War II. The Republican plans to dismantle the Federal government is nothing more than an attempt to concentrate more wealth among the elites.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  2. lifeonfats permalink
    November 5, 2012 7:12 pm

    Obama also believes in women making their own reproductive choices, while Romney and even worse, his fellow Republicans, think that it’s perfectly okay for the government to tell us what we should do with our bodies, not to mention the hideous comments about rape in the name of religion. If there is any cause why we need separation of church and state, this would be it.

    • November 6, 2012 9:54 am

      Yeah, the radical stance Republicans have taken in terms of reproductive choice is quite startling. I definitely think Democrats are the party of bodily autonomy (for the most part).

      Peace,
      Shannon

  3. November 5, 2012 11:33 pm

    I’m sorry, but honestly, this is a non-starter for me. What the hell do I care about Let’s Move if I can’t afford the birth control that keeps my anxiety disorder at bay? What the hell do I care about weight issues not being covered by insurance if private insurers won’t give me ANY policy due to my autism?

    I’m not saying this is a waste of time, but I’m sorry, I think we need to get the basics squared away before we get to the extras.

    • November 6, 2012 5:38 am

      “I’m sorry, but honestly, this is a non-starter for me. What the hell do I care about Let’s Move if I can’t afford the birth control that keeps my anxiety disorder at bay? What the hell do I care about weight issues not being covered by insurance if private insurers won’t give me ANY policy due to my autism?”

      Of course you are not obligated to care about any of the issues addressed in our mock debates, but we’re talking about them because, well, we’re Fierce Fatties. We’re not a healthcare access organization, a reproductive rights league, or an organization that serves those with autism. We’re going to focus on issues that are pertinent to fat, and if those aren’t high priority for you right now, that’s totally fine. They’re not high-priority for me, either. But can you really get upset given the mission of this blog?

      • November 6, 2012 10:37 am

        You’re absolutely right that the point of FFF is, well, fat. XD And to be honest, I didn’t grasp that it was more an academic thing to discuss than a serious election guide. Aspies have a hard enough time grasping jokes and/or sarcasm face to face, it’s really hard over the internet. 🙂

    • November 6, 2012 9:56 am

      CC,
      We wanted to do something fun for the election, so we’re debating who is the best President for fatties. Joanna’s post from Romney’s perspective is a Devil’s Advocate take, and intended to represent his case for being the better President for fat people. This wasn’t intended to be a serious review of all the issues. You’ve seen my Facebook page, you know I’ve got better reasons to vote for Obama than the ones listed here. 🙂

      Peace,
      Shannon

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