My Turn: Eat healthy – or pay the premium
‘With hopes of getting more people up and moving, scientists are looking at the body’s biological and chemical processes for clues to understanding what’s behind differing attitudes toward exercise.”
The above headline caught my eye recently on the cover of The Wall Street Journal.
There was a time, not long ago, in evolutionary measure, that exercise was not a choice but an imperative. So-called “primitive” tribes exist today that do not think twice about getting daily exercise.
Our Hadza brothers and sisters in Tanzania as well as our Kalahari brethren do not have a choice about exercising.
They are hunter-gatherers. They get up and move or perish.
Recent studies suggest that basal metabolic rates among Hadza and Kalahari are about the same as Westerners and that the real cause of our hideous obesity epidemic is not about the act of hunting and gathering but rather about the choice of foods that we hunt and gather in our local supermarkets and at our fast-food emporiums.
We eat highly processed (refined), hydrogenated, sugar and salt-ladened crap and much too much of it. The Hadza and Kalahari have no such choices. It seems clear that eating food closer to its natural state and in less volume would make a great deal of health sense.
The real problem is, unlike the “hunt or die” imperative that Hadza and Kalahari face, we have no such imperative or motivation to eat well, eat less and to exercise.
If we are to get serious about our obesity epidemic and its attending health issues of heart-related illness, diabetes and the rest, we must create an imperative. The Hadza have no choice. Neither should we.
Until I prove to my health insurer that I exercise and eat more like nomadic tribesmen than piggly wiggly at the trough, I should get slammed with higher insurance premiums. Conversely, if biometrics indicate that I am free from hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes and smoker’s lung, then I should be rewarded. Paying for prevention would cost a fraction of what we currently pay for remediation.
It’s not about loving or hating exercise. It’s about actually experiencing an imperative to exercise. This imperative should be provided by our health insurers.
(Tom Walton lives in Contoocook.)