April 24, 2009

Two airline seats for overweight? Warshaw Weighs In

airline seatsThe news last week that several airlines are considering
charging overweight people for two airline seats evokes thoughts from me from two
extremes. On one end I work as a concerned and empathetic health care provider
to be sensitive to the challenges and struggles that overweight people face.
From the opposite end of the spectrum, still wearing my health care provider
hat, I am very concerned that if we continue to make larger airplane seats and
take other actions to consider and compensate for the ever-expanding waistlines
of both children and adults, then we’re just enabling people to eat whatever
and how much they want and pack on more pounds?

I well recognize that to manage one’s weight--both weight
loss and weight maintenance--takes a lot of effort which includes working at it
every day (trust me, I know because I do it…everyday!). At this juncture in
time I believe it is exceedingly important to encourage everyone, starting with
infants, children and adults; to prevent weight gain in the first place through healthy eating and being physically active. We know it's much easier to do this than lose weight and keep it off! However, if a person is overweight, let's encourage them to prevent further weight gain.

We’ve got to start to take actions as a society to
negatively reinforce our unhealthy and disease provoking eating and physical
activity habits…and turn this frightening epidemic around. People don’t realize that excess fat is not
innocent blubber
. Excess fat in millions of people, including children, is slowly
causing metabolic changes which can cause insulin resistance, elevated blood
pressure and eventually, for many, pre-diabetes and type 2 (more about this in
a future blog).

Perhaps one step to negatively reinforce unhealthy
lifestyles is charging overweight people for two seats?