Eleven Awesome Things We Could Do With The Money We Spend On Diets

Illustration for article titled Eleven Awesome Things We Could Do With The Money We Spend On Diets

In the year 2012, Americans will likely spend more than sixty billion dollars on diets. 95% of those diets will result in people being as heavy or heavier than they started, with the medical dangers involved with weight cycling, and having taken the self-esteem hit of trying and failing at a diet.


Or, according to numbers from Marilyn Wann's Awesome Fat!So? Dayplanner we could:

  • Fund the Environmental Protection agency for 5 years (based on their 2011 budget).
  • Spend 9 times what the US did in 2010 on foreign AIDS funding.
  • Increase annual spending on plus size fashion 3.6 times.

There's some other stuff we could do:

  • We could build 60,000 million-dollar community centers that accept a sliding scale fee and give people in 60,000 communities safe movement options that they enjoy.
  • We could buy 60,000 hundred acre tracts suitable for sustainable farming and supply them with a barn, fences, tractor, implements, improvements, animals, and seed.
  • We could give full scholarships to 1,819,505 students to four year public colleges to study health separate from weight, fat studies, and a million other awesome things.
  • We could buy a pair of good, supportive athletic shoes and a one year membership at a HAES friendly gym for every person in the United States.
  • We could spend $10.75 more on every school lunch (According to the USDA the national school lunch program serves 31 million kids a day for the 180 day school year. Currently we spend about $1 for every school lunch so this could dramatically increase the quality of kid's food).
  • Instead of serving one $1 meal to 31 million kids, we could serve three $3.58 cent meals to all of those kids every school day. Or we could serve those same 31 million kids three $1.76 meals every day of the year.
  • We could give $522 to every US household.
  • And that's just the US –- imagine what we could do for the world if we re-captured the money that we throw out the window on pills, shakes, and "lifestyle changes" that leave us less healthy than we started.

Instead of continuing to pour money into an industry that has to include the phrase "results not typical" anytime they suggest that their product might actually work, and that has a success rate that barely rivals the lottery, we could do any of the things above (or a combination of them!) and focus on healthy habits for ourselves – for which you don't not have to pay $12 a week, get weighed in public, drink nasty soy protein shakes, or buy special expensive highly processed food. If we just eat a little healthier and move about 30 minutes 5 days a week, not only would we accomplish something with our sixty billion dollars, but we would actually have a chance of ending the year healthier than when we started it.

Just some food for thought.

This post originally appeared on Dances With Fat. Republished with permission.

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Ok, I understand that for the average person spending this kind of money on "a diet" seems insane. But here's a little story. My father and my sister were both considered "obese." He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which gave them both cause to reevaluate things.

My sister went with one of those incredibly expensive boot camps that gives you a personal trainer and a gym. They have "biggest loser" competitions and the whole nine yards, and she has lost over 60 pounds, and has significantly lowered her risk of contracting diabetes. She's also incredibly happy, and often discusses how much she loves being able to go clothes shopping without breaking down in tears in the dressing room.

So can I suggest that while we avoid bodysnarking, we avoid diet snarking? Because yes, for some of us, a simple "healthier lifestyle" is enough. I'm one of those people. I eat less junk food, go to yoga, and I stay healthy. That wasn't the case for my sister. She needed more.

So maybe the EPA can get their funding elsewhere. And this is coming from someone who works for an environmental non-profit.

ETA: I really don't mean to be bodysnarking or rude. I don't think being obese means you can't be healthy, but with our family's medical history it was a problem.