It's tough. The government is getting better about smoking, but there are still some major issues to deal with - we are mandating a certain amount of tobacco be grown, yet we're saying tobacco use is bad. Figure that one out.
The other problem is you have to change a lot of things regarding lifestyle...we're rushing to be everywhere, so we settle for fast food rather than a decent meal. It's easier. It tastes better. We're getting lazier. No time for exercise. It's a lot of things.
It's amazing how many health problems occur as a result of unhealthy lifestyles that lead to obesity - which then make you exponentially more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, etc. We could cut health care costs by a TON and provide cheaper health coverage across the country if we just targeted those alone.
Nobody walks anywhere man. Where I go to school, it's a 5 minute walk up a fairly steep hill. Even the people who are in decent shape take their cars up to campus. It's unreal. Then they eat like crap all day long and they wonder why they're gaining weight.
Solving this isn't easy - there are a lot of angles to play. You have to educate people about their health and make them realize what they're doing to themselves. You have to provide incentives for restaurants and food producers to quit using unhealthy ingredients. The government has to stand firm on nutrition facts - products that claim to be "trans fat free" can have up to .5 grams of trans fats, if I'm not mistaken.
Sorry to go on about this stuff, but this is why I'm getting my masters. I'm trying to figure out how to solve this, and I'm not sure there is an easy solution.
It's not helping that we depend on both the government and the health care industry to save us from ourselves. There must be a happy balance between callousness (you smoked cigarettes all your life, now don't expect the health care industry to "make you well" again, at a bargain rate to boot) and giving medical aid to those who desperately need it. Unfortunately we've become a society that is becoming less and less willing to take responsibility for our actions and lifestyle choices.
I don't think the government should regulate all that much. It's against several basic rights to tell people not to smoke, drink or stop exercising. Of course, people should take responsibility...although I don't think that we can deny people healthcare alltogether(without violating the hypocratic oath) if only because they helped pay for the system.
What we should do is somehow motivate people to get off their ass and start eating healthy and exercising. One way to do this would be to subsidize healthy food and sports classes. Another would be to teach kids to cook in highschool...or maybe ban university food plans (no, seriously, those things stop people from learning to cook).
I bike to work whenever possible, but I live in a city, so even if I took mass transit there is a lot of walking involved.
My wife and I spent a week in Florida and I gained five pounds. We drove everywhere - everywhere meaning out to eat. So small wonder.
I find it hard to believe that with all the damning medical evidence and the astronomical costs people still actually smoke as much as they do.
I know no one wants to pay the tax man for it but in the usa it's kinda crazy that seniors and parents of sick children have to worry about choosing between food and rent or medications needed. There has to be a better way.
Originally Posted by jsharr
People whose sig line does not include a jsharr quote annoy me.
'86 Bridgestone T500; '78 Raleigh Tour 14; '72 Peugeot tandem; '94 Cannondale R500 (dates are approximate)
As has been suggested in some of the replies, the problem is a complex cultural issue. Changing long-standing habits is not easy, especially those related to comfort. The best approach may simply be person-to-person advocacy, backed up by example. Consider, even, the thought processes occurring in those observers who are watching you ride by. There's got to be at least some positive impact.
On the other hand, perhaps some motivating regulation might be part of the solution. Economics seem to influence many of our quotidian decisions. Google "fat tax", for instance; it's a controversial concept. If we applied such a tax, it might have a long term effect toward healthier lifestyles, and simultaneously alleviating some of the health care burden (especially if proceeds were directed towards overall health care costs).