Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The $uper $izing of First Aid; Who Pays?

An article in yesterday’s Washington Post got me thinking.

“Super-size Equipment Helps D.C. Area EMTs Move the Obese” discussed the latest in technology—extra large stretchers, specialized lift systems and ambulances specifically built to handle people who weigh 700 pounds—that is used with greater frequency by paramedics and firefighters.

As I was reading the story, I asked myself, “Who is paying for all this stuff?”

My next thought was, “We the taxpayers are.”

And then I wondered, “Why aren’t the big food companies funding these gizmos? After all, they are the ones that make all the crap which helps people get really fat.”

I know, fat chance.

But this stuff isn’t cheap and I can’t imagine we aren’t paying for the new equipment in either higher taxes or increased health insurance rates:
“Sales of stretchers designed specifically for very large patients were expected to reach $50 million in 2012, up from $29.6 million in 2004, while sales of specialized lift systems were projected to rise from $75 million to $193 million.”
Shouldn’t the multinationals that create, market and sell the foodstuffs that make them rich and us fat help reap what they sow?


Anonymous said...

Do you know, I really like this idea. If Calif. can require the tobacco companies to fund anti-smoking advertising, why not have Mickey-D's fund double-wide stretchers, coffins, and hearses.

Anonymous said...

As you know, I'm a big fan of your work. But this is the first blog post that i read from you that I did not like. I thought it was a cop out to the issue of obesity. It did not have nearly the depth or sophistication of most of your other blogs. Even your video blog on how to fry an egg had more. I understand you are trying to get after the multinationals, who have huge amounts of guilt in regards to this issue, but how can you raise that point and not discuss the role that the consumer has in the situation? Or make analogies to other situations where the market creates a product that risks health but has great appeal, i.e. fast motorcycles or something like that?
Regardless, thanks for writing, and bringing this issue closer to the forefront.


Mel said...

It is very easy to blame our problems on others when we do not want to be held responsible for our own actions. I have recently started reading your blog and really enjoy it, but I have to agree with anonymous that this is something that should also be dealt with on the consumer side. As adults, we have choices and free will to choose, so why not also take responsibility for our actions? It is not easy, but we have to start somewhere.
Melissa B (Memphis, TN)

Anonymous said...

Agreed Mel,
Key piece, to me, of what you said is "should also", with an emphasis on ALSO. To be successful, it is a collarboative effort that needs to occur. Interesting new report on child obesity came out today, by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and speaks directly to how parents can affect it http://bit.ly/aorSkn
Again, Rob, thanks for starting this discussion


Brian M said...

I'm all for personal responsibility, and once you've become so obese that you need an extra large stretcher, it's definitely time to wake up and take control of your life.

But these trends in health care equipment are a byproduct of an obesity EPIDEMIC. Unless you believe this epidemic is caused by a sudden and drastic decrease in peronal responsibility in our society over the past 30 years, you have to acknowledge that there are other forces at work here.

Check out the 90-minute documentary Food Inc for a decent overview of those forces. Heavily subsidized corn available at far below the actual cost of production has transformed our food supply such that disease-prone factory produced meat and overly processed, sweetened food products are much cheaper than real healthy food like fruits and vegetables. No wonder then that obesity is most rampant among lower income people.

Brian M said...

(cont'd from above)
Despite the blatant destructiveness of this system, the people who profit from it most, the giant multinationals that Rob references in his post, spend mountains of money on lawyers and lobbyists to preserve the status quo. In a lot of ways their behavior is reminiscent of tobacco companies in their heyday.

Anonymous said...

It's 3:54AM and I've just finished reading your entire web site, which I found through FB Weston Price page. Interesting to me, as I grow much of my own food, have chickens, and feel the need to take control over what I eat, having been addicted to sugar for most of my life, now sugar and grain-free. As a former food-addict, I see the addictiveness of the conventional food supply, and it is getting worse. Thanks for your work, and I plan to bookmark your site and read more of your posts.

Chef Rob said...

Anonymous @ 3:54 a.m. -

Happy you found The Delicious Truth. Thanks for reading and feel free to voice your opinions.

Zia, kr, Mel, Brian M - Thanks for your comments. Today's post further discussed this issue.