Q: What's the only good thing to come out of Alabama?
Today, there's this bullshit (via Shakesville):
Alabama, pushed to second in national obesity rankings by deep-fried Southern favorites, is cracking down on state workers who are too fat.
The state has given its 37,527 employees a year to start getting fit -- or they'll pay $25 a month for insurance that otherwise is free.
Let's start with the complete non-starter about "deep-fried Southern favorites." Skinny people eat fried foods all the time without getting fat (ummmm, Michael Phelps, anyone?)...and not eating fried foods doesn't make people skinny. ('Cause seriously, I hate me some fried foods.)
What bugs me about this is that this is, essentially, an employer gathering personal and private information about its workers, and then using this to affect the benefits some workers receive along with their paychecks (and let's not forget that we're talking about Alabama, one of the lowest-ranked states in terms of median income - hmmmm, the poverty-fatness combo again; wonder if there's a connection?). And what personal data will they be using to determine who pays and who doesn't? Our old friend, the BMI!
The board will apply the obesity charge to anyone with a body mass index of 35 or higher who is not making progress. A person 5 feet 6 inches tall weighing 220 pounds, for example, would have a BMI of 35.5. A BMI of 30 is considered the threshold for obesity.
The board has not yet determined how much progress a person would have to show and is uncertain how many people might be affected because everyone could avoid the charge by working to lose weight.
So, we know the BMI is crap...but I particularly love the part where there not sure how to measure progress. (Maybe that's because diets don't work, or something.) My fave part is that "everyone could avoid the charge" by "working to lose weight." I wonder if anybody's ever considered that maybe the fatties have tried (and are probably still trying) to lose weight a few times before. Jackholes!
Here's the piece that will inevitably be overlooked:
A recent study suggested that about half of overweight people and nearly a third of obese people have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while about a quarter of people considered to be normal weight suffer from the ills associated with obesity.
...because the State of Alabama can't pocket $300 a year per fat person if they recognize that health cannot be regulated, or at least that fat is not the same thing as unhealthy.
I also love that they quote the state employees' union as not being upset:
Mac McArthur, executive director of Alabama State Employees Association, said the plan is not designed to punish employees.
"It's a positive," he said.
Riiiight. Not designed to punish employees. Only take some of their money. Those are totally different things.
Honestly, this program is similar to a "wellness" program at my company; if I joined the program, got a "health coach" and followed whatever steps they told me I should, I would save $20 a month on my premiums. But you know what? My weight is none of my employer's fucking business, and $20 a month is something I can afford to spend to preserve my privacy. Is it right, though? Is it fair that I basically pay a premium to be fat and insured? Hell, no. It's total crap.
The part that sucks hardest is that the people (substantially women, I bet) with the least financial resources are probably also the ones who'll be stuck finding a way to budget in an extra $25 a month because they don't have time, money, or the resources it takes to force their bodies to lose weight. I smell eating disorders and starvation - if they aren't already there.
So, yeah, State of Alabama: FUCK YOU!