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Fighting Fat: Thanks, WSJ!

August 3, 2009

MichaelSSmithII

By Michael S. Smith II, SC Hotline Contributing Editor

According to the Trust for America’s Health, South Carolina’s populace currently suffers the fifth-highest rate of obesity in the U.S. (See AP report titled “State-by-State List of Obesity Rates, Rankings,” Link: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=7975333)

A South Carolina pediatrician, my wife is currently seeking a CATCH Program grant from the American Academy of Pediatrics to fund the planning phase of a nonprofit community healthcare project which will address childhood obesity in our Lowcountry community. Statistics and medical research findings published by The Wall Street Journal during recent weeks were especially helpful to my wife and me as we prepared her request for support from the CATCH Program.

According to an AP report published by the Journal on July 27, the medical journal Health Affairs recently published a study of the impacts of obesity in America. The study found about a third of Americans are obese, and medical spending averages $1,400 more per year for an obese person than a person whose body mass index is “normal.” The piece also explained: “Prescription drugs for obesity-related illnesses account for much of the rise in spending. Medicare spends about $600 more per year on prescriptions for an obese beneficiary than a normal-weight one, the study found.” (See AP report titled ”Nearly 10% of Health Spending Due to Obesity, Report Says,” Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124869340217883455.html)

On August 1, the Journal published an outstanding editorial/expose regarding the issue of obesity in America.

In “The Fat of the Land:  A soda pop tax and gov’t healthcare won’t cure obesity,” WSJ editorial writers rightly noted tort lawsuits filed against the soda, fast food, and snack food industries for their so-called roles in the fattening of America may generate large settlements and maybe even some big judgments, but they will not benefit the American society on the whole. (Link to editorial: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203609204574316022329001200.html) (Living in the same community as Ron Motley, America’s so-called King of Torts, I’ve watched plenty of lawyers laugh their ways to their banks after winning massive class action lawsuits like the one recently described by the Journal in that August 1 editorial. Still, people continue to light up.)

The Journal’s editorial writers also did all Americans a great service by suggesting members of Congress should do more to address the issue of obesity in our country.

They did, however, stop short of addressing a driving force in legislators’ avoidance of this issue, which is: No matter how much they may be trying to convince the public otherwise with policy proposals to mandate “universal healthcare” in America, Democrats helming the wheel of legislative power in America will not do everything in their powers to ensure America’s future is a healthier one. Doing so would be antithetical to the business interests of their powerful trial lawyer friends and fundraisers — attorneys who work for such firms as the Charleston, S.C.-headquartered plaintiff’s firm Motley Rice.

Despite the trial lawyer lobby’s growing influence on the legislative process, several prominent South Carolina Republican political figures have demonstrated this issue is on their radars. Among them: Former U.S. Congressman Arthur Ravenel, Jr. (Member, Charleston County School Board), S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, and S.C. State Sen. George E. “Chip” Campsen III.

All of these gentlemen have endorsed my wife’s proposed project, which will represent a collaborative effort between medical professionals and public school administrators who will develop, offer and manage obesity prevention programs that will encourage children and their parents to pursue healthy lifestyles. After all, much of a child’s dietary options are controlled by their parent(s), not food industry marketing professionals.

Even U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint recently wrote to thank my wife for her efforts to initiate a project that will seek to reduce obesity and obesity-related conditions in our community. (Unlike his colleague representing South Carolina in the Senate, Sen. DeMint has yet to host a fundraiser on Mr. Motley’s ironically named motor yacht, Themis.)

Information my wife and I gleaned from pieces published by the Journal has helped us with our efforts to help our community address what is an all too often easily avoidable medical condition, obesity.

Thanks, WSJ!

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Sponsored by Sewell Consultancy — “Do more with less.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2009 2:37 AM

    The program is worthwhile, much needed. Children’s dietary options are certainly controlled by their parent(s), not food industry marketing professionals, so it sounds like a beneficial long-term program.

    What about adults who’ve made poor lifestyle choices? Yes, it’s their personal choice, but a few employers who pay some portion of healthcare insurance have found that employees who are given financial incentives — lower healthcare premiums — will modify their behavior enough to save themselves and their employers significant sums. The Wall Street Journal has had several articles about Safeway’s success in keeping expenses flat by using such incentives; I link to them in this blog entry: http://pworld.thestateonline.com/?p=197

    Seems like an idea that the Palmetto State government might look into since it is by far the largest employer in the state. It would help your wife’s efforts since virtually all public school teachers are covered by the state plan.

    This approach is conservative: give individuals more information and incentives and they will make smart choices. And they’ll leave the plaintiffs’ bar out of it.

  2. Philotiger permalink
    August 4, 2009 10:30 PM

    Sorry to hear your wife has an obesity
    problem she is dealing with. Glad that
    Sen. Demint is supportive. You be
    supportive, also, and perhaps the two
    of you can get through this unfortunate
    episode with your heads (and HDL) held
    high. You and your wife will be in my prayers.

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