Government Shortsightedness Causes Obesity
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?