Government Shortsightedness Causes Obesity

Government Shortsightedness Causes Obesity

Santa Monica Palisades Park

Santa Monica Palisades Park. Too pretty to allow exercise?

Cities like Santa Monica are looking at new regulations that would either ban fitness boot camps or charge them for ‘wear and tear’ on the parks.  Its just this kind of short sighted thinking that has caused our obesity epidemic and helped cause our spiraling out of control medical costs.

If you look at the bigger picture, out of control healthcare costs are what is killing the economy and a big part of that is obesity.  Anything you can do to make the population thinner and healthier will have an incredible rate of return in healthcare savings.  Across the nation we cut after school sports programs to save money and we are now reaping the reward for that with teen obesity at record levels.  An important part of turning the obesity epidemic around and lowering healthcare costs is to make people more active.  To encourage people to exercise and participate in sports you make it easier and cheaper, not more expensive and difficult! Its not rocket science.

Charging fitness boot camps to use parks and regulating them will increase their cost to participants or shut them down entirely.  Many people need the guidance and motivation that these boot camps provide and without it, they would not exercise.   I know the sweat, grunts, and noise of a boot camp make it difficult for the chess players to concentrate and the worn grass is not pleasing to the eyes but we need people to exercise.   The pittance that the city would get from taxing these boot camps would be completely insignificant compared to the increased healthcare costs should all these bootcamps folks stop exercising.

If we are serious about making our population thinner and healthier we need to take a long term approach and realize that spending a little money now will save us trillions of dollars 30 years from now.  We need practical nutrition classes in schools to give kids the knowledge they need to eat a healthy diet.  We need to completely revamp our PE classes to foster a positive attitude toward sports.  We need to strongly encourage participation in after school sports programs and make them available to all regardless of means.   We need to invest in sports infrastructure in our schools and parks so that there are sufficient safe places for these after school sports programs.  And on topic, we need to promote adult fitness and make bootcamp type programs easily accessible.

I know I am talking about spending more money and with the Fiscal Cliff still fresh in our minds,  we all know the problem our government has in balancing their budget.   Do we have the political will to make the right long term decision even though it would cause short term pain?

53 thoughts on “Government Shortsightedness Causes Obesity”

  1. @cancervive:disqus communism all the way. Just kidding….a little. But no, someone who has
    served two term in iraq and had their legs blown off should most
    certainly not have the right to hold a political position. Anyone close
    enough to an explosion to have their legs blown off would have sustained
    a serious concussion. Damage to the brain cells which for the most part
    die permanently could inhibit his ability to make appropriate
    decisions. Just check in with the CDC and National Institute of health,
    veterans in combat situations have the highest amounts of traumatic
    brain injury along with football and hockey players and boxers.

  2. I definitely respect, and agree, with your point that fitness options, plans, and strategies should be easily accessible to people, Scooby. People like you do a great service to the public in this regard. However, these bootcamps are private businesses that are made profitable by the use of public space. Frankly, I don’t see an issue with them being taxed a maintenance fee. After all, they are making money from using park space and, in the process, forcing the city to use public tax money for the additional upkeep.

    It’d be safe to assume that the reason this proposal is being tabled is that there have been complaints about the state that parks are left in after bootcamp sessions; likely due to the high turnout and popularity of these training programs. To that end, I have to disagree with your statement that charging these bootcamps money would shut them down. It would, however, probably make them more accountable for the treatment of the public space that they operate within.

  3. I can see both sides of this story. If we are talking about small groups of people getting together to train, why not? If we are talking about big groups with lots of equipment, I can see it becoming a nuisance. I’ve seen some training going on in the parks around Boston, but they have been small groups. There is also the question of a profitable entity using public spaces. Do vendors have to pay a fee to sell in public areas, my guess would be yes.

  4. The Santa Monica boot camps really push the boundaries of what’s appropriate. They are there 12 hours a day and set up a full crossfit gym with tractor tires, TRX systems, massage tables, barbell sets, etc. I’m all for fitness but the park is meant to be a park, not free gym space. Little kids need space to run around to avoid obesity, which is harder to do when obese adults are taking up all the space with their questionable (and expensive) fitness camps.

  5. While we can point the finger at the government, we are the ones that choose to put the fast food crud into our bodies. Cutting after school programs and parks is a deterrent, but people need to exercise some accountability too (see what I did there?)

  6. A bootcamp may well be fun, it may be interesting, it may even help an individual to lose weight, however, to suggest the absence of a bootcamp in a public facility such as a park CAUSES obesity is simply absurd.

    Let us all get something fully understood from the outset….The ONLY person responsible for a person (other than a child) being obese, is that person themself. They (1) CHOOSE to eat more food than they require for their daily energy requirements and (2) CHOOSE not to exercise sufficiently to burn off the extra calories they have absorbed.

    Before you begin to criticise and condemn me for my comments, please take the time to read Scooby’s Blurb “Can’t means Won’t” posted on December 22, 2011. To Scooby’s own list you could add “I can’t lose weight, the local government have banned bootcamps in the park.”

    Furthermore, it is quite possible to get a full workout at home without the need to visit the local park. If you doubt this fact, take a look at the Heading at the top each and every Scooby Page. It reads “Home Fitness and Body Building Workouts.” Did you notice there was no mention of bootcamps in the heading?

    Over the years Scooby has gone to great lengths to point out there is no need to join a gym. In Scooby’s own words “I don’t encourage the use of any supplements or the purchase of any new equipment, you can build a fantastic physique with just a cheap used set of dumbbells”.

    Joining a gym, or joining a bootcamp program are simply accessories and in no way a necessity to getting fit and losing weight. A person’s inability to join a gym through either financial limitations, or an absence of a local gym would not CAUSE that person to become obese. In the same way, the absence of a bootcamp in the local park does not CAUSE the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation.

    Let me quote Scooby from his Blurb Solving America’s Obesity Problem written by Scooby on May 22, 2012 · “America is fat because our nutrition is bad and we are sedentary”. In addition, Scooby offers his solution to the obesity epidemic “I say that losing weight is simple as 1-2-3, exercise a little bit more, eat a little bit less, and drink lots of water.” No mention of Gyms, no mention of bootcamp. Just as simple as 1-2-3. Now please don’t shoot the messenger, I am simply quoting Scooby’s own words.

    Far too often people wish to avoid personal responsibility and accountability for their own actions or inaction. It is time to STOP blaming Governments, friends, family, or strangers for being obese.

  7. Europe is the same, every country in the world is the same, people in power only look to there own term, doing anything longer than there term in power is pointless to them, after all they simple don’t care about helping people, things are at the nice balance for them, they can do what they want when they want and not even try and solve issues, all they do is pass from one thing to another and give it a touch up instead of fighting the problem at the source, fighting the problem at the source would take time effort and money which wont have effects until their term in office is done, hence making it pointless for them to do it, its rather simple. This is how American and Europe is particularly run and its also why there both falling to pieces before us and no one can do anything about it until things get so bad there making losing the balance they want, only then will anything get done.

  8. Healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Most politicians concept of physical fitness is watching a sport on television and going to the kitchen to get a beer, chips and have a smoke at half time. Until politicians start thinking outside the box and push more participation sports, obesity and diabetes will continue to be a pandemic.

    1. If I had my way, it would be a requirement for US Senate and Congress seats that the person:

      1) Must have lived 2 years abroad in a country where English is not spoken
      2) Must commute to work every day using public transit or bike
      3) Have a child, niece, nephew or grandchild in the Infantry

      4) Must be able to do 5 good form pushups if they are under age 65 or 5 good knee pushups if they are over the age of 65. Must be able to run a mile in under 12 minutes if they are under 65 years old or walk a mile in under an hour if they are over 65.

      With these four very minor changes, I think we could turn our country around.

        1. How is it possible that you agree 100% with these stated requirements. The Unites States of America Senate and Congress need responsible and capable people to fill those high offices and all United States citizens should have the right to stand for election.

          (1) To suggest a person needs to live in a non-english speaking country for 2 years to adequately and efficiently fulfill their responsibility as a Senator is shortsighted. The world has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, and English speakers have no trouble finding others to communicate with in their own language. Sure, if a person moves into a rural district in a third world country they may be less likely to come upon an English speaker, however, Scooby made no mention of rural countryside.

          (2) The requirement that only those that commute to work every day using public transit or bike has failed to take into consideration the many millions of hard working, conscientious tax paying US citizens who have set up and established a small business in their home. No commuting is required. These people have a Constitutional right to stand for Office, a right that would be taken from them if Scooby had his way

          (The number of home-based businesses ranges up to 38 million, depending on who is doing the counting (U.S. Census statistics).)

          (3) Why should a person who does not have a child, niece, nephew or grandchild in the infantry be denied the right to stand for Public office? Based upon Scooby’s requirements, a Veteran who has served 3 tours of duty in Iraq, has been awarded military medals for service and bravery, and who served his Country faithfully would be denied the right to stand for Senate or Congress if he/she did not have child, niece, nephew or grandchild in the Infantry.

          These people have a Constitutional right to stand for Office, a right that would be taken from them if Scooby had his way

          (4) Based upon Scooby’s requirements, United States of America citizens who are limited in their mobility, either through some birth defect, or accident, would be denied the right to stand for Office as they would fail to meet the stated requirements. Veterans who have returned home from overseas deployment in war zones, injured and confined to wheelchairs, would be denied the right to stand for Office, as they may not meet the strict exercise requirements. They can fight for their country, they can be seriously injured for their country, they can even die for their country, however, If Scooby was to get his way, and if they are one of the lucky ones to return home to their family, they will be denied the right to represent their country in the Office of Senator or Congressman. In addition, those who have lost their legs in industrial or motor vehicle accidents would be numbered amongst those ineligible to stand for office.

          250,000 Americans are spinal cord injured. Approximately 11,000 new injuries occur each year. The average age of spinal cord injured person is 31.

          These people have a Constitutional right to stand for Office, a right that would be taken from them if Scooby had his way

          Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for senators:
          1) they must be at least 30 years old,
          2) they must have been citizens of the United States for at least the past nine years, and
          3) they must be inhabitants of the states they seek to represent at the time of their election.

          Anything or anyone that seeks to undermine citizens rights, or in this case remove them completely should be viewed with suspicion, and treated with extreme caution.

          1. That’s correct. These people currently have constitutional sanction to stand for office. Scooby is suggesting a -change- that would allow people with more perspective to help lead the country. All rules should be viewed with suspicion, and in some cases obeyed or implemented.
            Currently, not all Citizens have the right to stand for office, and through careful consideration we might discover that the existing restrictions are too lenient if we want our lawmakers to be effective in the modern era.

          2. So you don’t think that a Vet with 2 deployments in Iraq, with medals for valor, but sadly had his legs blown off by mine has enough perspective?

            It would be a refreshing change if people thought a little more before blindly agreeing with Scooby’s comments. Of course, some of them are excellent, but others are downright absurd and dangerous.

            We need people with intestinal fortitude to be willing to speak up and say when he is just plain wrong.

            And by-the-way, you never addressed each of the four requirements Scooby would impose upon those who wished to stand for Office. Hardly surprising, as they are absurd and ill thought out.

          3. Did you give Scooby the chance to fully explain himself? Nope you surely didn’t. If you’ve got enough time to sit and make long winded political arguments on a FITNESS website, then I’m afraid you need to find more to do =) later bo!

          4. Once again the message is ignored and the focus placed upon the messenger.

            I didn’t need to give Scooby a chance to explain himself. He made the original post. He was the one who made the original comment in the first place.

            As for enough time to make a political argument…just take a look at the heading on THIS page “Government Shortsightedness Causes Obesity” Quite obviously you don’t understand that is a political statement. It is Scooby who has the time to make the political statement to which I was responding. You really do need to think a little more before you type you illogical and ill thought out comment.

            Maybe you should get out a little more and speak to those who have served the USA loyally and faithfully. If you do so then maybe you will not have such a narrow view as to who can hold political office.

            Scooby made a statment without thinking it through clearly enough. Have the honesty to say it instead of aligning yourself to a system of belief that discriminates against so may American citizens.

          5. Hahaha you’re hilarious. Nobody wants to read your messages man. Give up. Yes you have made very obvious points. But you’re jumping onto the smallest outliers or exceptions to statements made (something I can tell you get your kicks in life from). A scientific and sociological rule is that laws/principles only exist because of the exceptions to them. Were any of these people insinuating that their suggestions had to be followed in the absolute sense? Of course not, nor would they say this. People are always breaking through their stereotypes and achieving great feats when circumstances are against them. This is something I whole heartedly endorse. So my advice to you sir is to step back and view the themes behind which people are talking. Everything points to a change in mindset of those that have acquired leadership responsibilities in the world. Not of these individual examples you continue to highlight unnecessarily. So please, please, pleeeeease just shhhh. Thanks very much!

          6. You say nobody wants to read my comments. What makes you so arrogant that you believe you speak for everyone?

            Your statement is also quite illogical, as quite obviously you have read them, and furthermore, have taken the time to respond to them.

            So which one is it. Nobody want to read them or some people do read them?

            Now take the time to go back and READ Scooby’s stated requirements. In three of the four requirements he begins with the word MUST. That is not a suggestion, or a theme, it is an absolute.

            Scooby is well qualified to speak on workouts to improve physical fitness, and I for one would not challenge his assertions, however, when he moves into the political arena he is no longer an expert, and his opinions and views are open to challenge as much as the next person.

          7. Forgive me, I only read snippets of your comments. It wasn’t hard to pick up the gist of what you were saying. And I happen to think Scooby is an amazing and unique individual who’s opinion on global issues is spot on in terms of thinking into the future. And in respect of him and his website, I shall not be carrying on this miniature debate which has had no benefit whatsoever. Good luck with your weight training =)

          8. Ignorance is bliss. According to your own words you only read “snippets” and yet you feel qualified to comment? As for Scooby being unique, you are correct on this one point. Scooby is unique, as in each and every one of the almost 7 billion people on the planet. Having agreed Scooby is unique, that does not mean to say he is infallible.

            With regard to Scooby’s “opinion on global issues being spot on” one has to wonder whether you have taken the time to actually speak with those who live with a disability and suffer the indignity of discrimination on a daily basis.
            Perhaps if you had then you would be more empathetic and see how the erosion of their rights is an insidious blight upon any democracy.

            As for a final comment to you, I am pleased you will “not be carrying on this miniature debate” (your words), and as you are a person who keeps your word this will be the end of it.

      1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States
        (1933–1945) and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th
        century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic
        depression and total war. A dominant leader of the Democratic Party and the only American president elected to more than two terms.

        At the age of 39 Roosevelt contracted polio, which resulted in permanent paralysis from the waist down. As a result of his paralysis FDR would have been unable to run a mile in under 12 minutes.

        If it was left to Scooby FDR would have been prohibited from serving his country.

        If anyone is shortsighted, it is Scooby, limiting the opportunity of those with disabilities because they don’t measure up to his standard of fitness and health.

  9. Scooby, this blog reiterates much of my thinking. I am in Canada, and I teach bootcamps. When I heard this park taxation idea I cringed. We face similar obesity/overweight issues in Canada and charging ‘park’ bootcamps is no where near the right answer to solve the obesity epidemic. Thank you for sharing this with everyone and providing a voice for the physical and health literate.


    1. People are SO shortsighted. They cant seem to get over the “they use the parks so they should pay” mentality. You have to look at the big picture and see what is best for the economy and health of the population long term.

  10. They’ve actually gotten rid of gym classes in a lot of places, so that they can drill more standardized test material into kids. It’s horrible. I think that people need to start gorilla fitness groups; informal exercise groups that are not ‘technically’ groups. After all, who do you charge when there’s no specific leader of the boot camp? :) People can also use their yards.

    I’m actually thinking about using some piping and other materials to make my back yard more workout friendly. I can use it for pull-ups, an obstacle course, and all sorts of other things. I don’t have a huge amount of land, but I’m sure it would be enough for a group of 8-10 people, if I get together a group.

  11. another way to reduce obesity is by reducing electronics advertising, ads make it seem as if you NEED the latest electronic device which ultimately will waste your time and keep you from working out :)

  12. This has been a big problem in Sydney, trainers taking over parks and beaches, shouting at the top of their voices and using whistles/horns at 5:30am right outside peoples’ windows; packs of cyclists doing laps of parks at 50km/h (speed limit 30km/h), and group runs along narrow paths.

    1. I can imagine a scenario like yours where it would become an issue. Sadly the main reason for this around america is that in the ever growing effort to leech more money out of people, local governments have decided that since a boot camp/excercise group uses the area consistently, they should and can therefore be taxed for it. You cant tax a bunch of college or high school kids to use the park for flag football every other weekend, but if they see a group of adults at a park at a certain time every weekend then it makes for an easy target to siphon money from.

  13. Did you hear that?…….that was some more hope for the human race being flushed away…. *sigh* Although if they ARE causing excess damage to park utilities and objects then I can see it fair to charge the official trainers and camps a fee to help maintain what they cause for damage. But another option would be to add spots for exercising and such TO the park??? Wouldn’t that help ‘regulate’ the number of people exercising and mitigate damages? I’m not that informed as to the layout of the park as I have never been there. In fact the entire time I was in California I spent 2 weeks living in the desert. So if I am ill-informed please educate me lol.

    1. I agree completely! Rather than ban bootcamps, listen to the changing world and adapt. The population needs a place to do bootcamps so build specific areas in a park where bootcamps can reserve their spot. Eliminates grass wear and tear, locates boot camps where noise wont disturb neighbors, and lets people have the bootcamp classes they want. These designated areas could be as simple as roped off areas of grass or the areas could be improved with pavement/concrete.

  14. Here’s another example: US sugar price supports which keep the price of sugar artificially high and led to the development of cheaper high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Since the early 1980s, this sugar substitute has found its way into most prepackaged food and drink products, and I’ve read of studies indicating that it appears to have a direct link to increased obesity rates. By just casual observation, the overweight percentage of the US population seems to have increased significantly in the last 25-30 years, since HFCS has become ubiquitous. Moreover, the sugar price supports have caused confectioners, which require sugar in their products, to move operations to other countries (e.g., Canada), where the ingredient can be obtained less expensively, costing US manufacturing jobs. Eliminating sugar price supports, including import tariffs on plentiful, cheap foreign sugar, would very likely reverse the reliance on relatively more expensive HFCS, thereby reducing obesity rates and food costs; it could also bring some confection manufacturing jobs back to the US.

      1. There actually is a difference and it is because of that extra 10% fructose. There have been several studies done since HFCS was invented, most of which has been swept under the rug (quite possibly by the companies that ushered it into nearly every processed food in america). Almost every one of those studies with any credibility found that when the liver breaks down forms of sugar and decides what to do with it, glucose is fairly balanced between conversion to energy and what is left unspent tends to convert to fat stores. Fructose on the other hand had been found to be far more likely to convert directly to fat. Assuming those several studies were in fact accurate, that would then show that HFCS does in fact have a more adverse effect simply because even if you are the fittest person in the world, glucose is more likely to be stored as energy for later use while fructose is more likely to go directly to fat.

        1. Have you read any of those studies?

          Nothing gets converted to (body) fat unless you have a calorific surplus so the amount you eat is what matters. Fructose is 250% sweeter than glucose, and 170% than sucrose, plus it doesn’t affect insulin and has a higher satiety level – so you’re likely to consume less.

  15. The government might be being pressured by gym chains. Trainers who offer fitness boot camps in the open can ask cheaper rates. Also, they promote the idea that you can train effectively outside of a gym.

      1. That’s why I wrote “gym chains”. Independent gyms surely do not hold such power. But even regarding gym chains, I agree that my suspect might be a stretch. However, in cases like these, I think that trying to think about less obvious motives helps. For instance, even when not pressured, the government might not want to upset gym owners who have to pay rents and taxes compared to trainers who would train by using public facilities. Or: the government does not want professionals to take advantage of public facilities for private gain.

  16. Look at how much money people in the health care sector make by charging astronomical prices. They don’t want any deductions to their already extreme wealth, so wouldn’t support any program that would alter this =( one thing I’ve noticed about the American political system is that they very often cater to the ‘here and now’ rather than future prospects. The economy, environmental issues and health just to name a few

    1. Yep, we need to find a way to encourage real long term solutions rather than short term band-aids. In the long run, its much cheaper to fix things the right way but that would cause politicians to lose their re-election campaigns.

  17. I must say that in Great Britain I have thought for a long time after seeing various campaigns to encourage us to eat healthier, be more active & to stop smoking that it is not because our government loves us but is to lower health care costs, the point I’m making is they do try to help us & help themselves at the same time, suppose it’s a win win situation

  18. Totally agree… I’m Italian and I know that American college’s sport system is one of the best… They give young people the chance to express their sport talent and become really strong and, sometimes, famous… I think that people need motivation constantly to keep fit and exercise… I’m a free air-fitness lover, and I’m pushing local political administration to build more parks equiped with pull up bars and stuff like that to allow people enjoy the discipline… a healthier country is a better country ;)

  19. Totally agree… I’m Italian and I know that American college’s sport system is one of the best… They give young people the chance to express their sport talent and become really strong and, sometimes, famous… I think that people need motivation constantly to keep fit and exercise… I’m a free air-fitness lover, and I’m pushing local political administration to build more parks equiped with pull up bars and stuff like that to allow people enjoy the discipline… a healthier country is a better country ;)

    1. Sad but true. Not to get cynical but some of the largest, most powerful corporations in the world (pharma/medical) benefit from sick and diseased citizens :(

  20. Something like this happened at my primary school, we had recently moved into a new facility, had a brand new basketball court and new equipment, but a few days after we were incorporated the ruling was that students weren’t allowed to use the court for anything other than tournaments against other schools and the teachers wondered why our teams sucked. Things are meant to be used, wear and tear is expected, that’s why there are ways to maintain everything.

    1. AAArgh! My guess is it was closed because the school couldnt afford the minimal amount to pay someone to supervise the courts during practices. Spend millions on a building then dont allow it to be used because you cant afford $15/hr to supervise the facility.

    2. Not sure about your High School, but ours wouldn’t allow any non-basketball activities on the court because it was laser-leveled for accuracy. Rather or not it was a good idea, I can’t say, but to spend that much money then I can sort of understand their reasoning.

  21. I totally agree. Invest more into physical fitness and the govt will save money in health care costs. Also, decrease the amount of tax money going into our army (which is already the best), and put more into education and physical fitness. After a couple years, we will be more healthy and active. The US seriously needs to stop being shortsighted and spending money on unimportant things… If only we were like Europe or Asia..

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