Tough love needed to combat American obesity problem

Tough love needed to combat American obesity problem

Southwest Airlines created a heap of controversy in 2002 when it began consistently making “people of size” pay for two seats if their bodies ventured beyond the 18 3/4 inch length of the seat cushion.Now Dr. John Tickell, of Australia, is suggesting a “fat tax” for overweight passengers to call awareness to his country’s growing health problem and to help cover increased fuel costs for heavier loads, according to a recent BBC News article.

Critics of Tickell’s proposal have warned that singling out people with weight issues could cause emotional distress, which Dr. Tim Gill of the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity says could make plus-size passengers “feel like pariahs,” according to the article.

Big deal.

The longer societies let obesity go unchecked, the greater the problem will become.

Tickell’s idea is just the sort of wake-up call that could greatly curb the obesity epidemic.

Forgive me if I want to charge large airline passengers for the seats they spill over into, but I’m not exactly sympathetic to the weight problems of our society.

We eat McDonald’s multiple times a day and prize re-runs of the “Bob Newhart Show” more than time spent outside.

Most people today don’t even know who Bob Newhart is, let alone find his robot-like demeanor remotely funny. I used to watch his show on Nick-at-Nite and wonder why they attached a laugh track to a show that was obviously a drama.

But hey, to some people, anything’s better than jogging.

Obesity is a major health problem here in America, and is often one that its victims bring upon themselves.

Coddling and telling severely obese people they’re “OK the way they are” couldn’t be more false from a medical standpoint.

The American Heart Association reports obesity is now recognized as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and diabetes.

I know some people are genetically predisposed to being bigger, but that’s not an excuse for them to be at an unhealthy weight level.

Before angry readers start flooding my inbox with vindictive statements and a list of reasons why I should go play in traffic, telling me “You just don’t know what it’s like to be big,” let me say something.

You’re right. I don’t. But that’s no excuse to avoid responsibility.

There are two ways to deal with a problem: ignore it and blame others, or accept its existence and be proactive.

How did Jared from Subway lose all that weight? It wasn’t fancy surgery or magic. It was good old fashioned willpower.

Sure, he might have rather eaten a cake and watched “Three’s Company” reruns on TV all day, but he went out and did something about it by changing his diet and exercise habits.

As much as I hate tired cliches, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Jared took it – toward Subway.

Few people hesitate to help a friend who’s addicted to drugs or shows signs of depression. When there’s a life at stake, we rise to the task.

Obesity kills in greater numbers than drugs or depression could ever touch. Yet, society does nothing about it for fear of emotional distress.

Charging for an extra seat or instituting a “fat tax” isn’t the sweetest thing to do, but it’s a stern measure that allows obese people to realize they need to do something to control their weight. We live in a country where approximately 33 percent of adults are obese, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We’ve got to do something besides offering hugs and reassurance.

Sometimes, tough love is the only way to get through.

David Hall is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Kingwood.