Alabama Slaps a Tax on Fat People

Alabama Slaps a Tax on Fat People
By Sean Kelley August 26, 2008

Should you pay more if you weigh more? That’s what Alabama’s State Employees’ Insurance Board thinks. In 2011 the board will start charging overweight state workers—those with a body mass index greater than 35—$25 a month for health insurance, which is currently free for all state employees.

(The state is giving workers a two-year head start; if they sign up for free health screenings and make progress, they won’t face the insurance fine.)

Being the second fattest state in the country—behind Mississippi—costs Alabamians lots of money—up to $1.32 billion a year in estimated medical charges, according to a 2004 study.

But is a pay-as-you-grow tax fair to the obese? Well, Alabama, like some private employers, already charges an extra fee to state workers who smoke. Private health insurance companies, of course, base their rates—and coverage refusal—on complex data related to the buyer’s health. Some private employers, who often encourage workers to lose weight with onsite diet and exercise programs, are considering more aggressive measures: Next January, one company in Indiana will begin charging employees up to $30 a month for missing health targets based on smoking, weight, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

At the government level, however, most health levies have been consumer taxes—on cigarettes and booze, for example—and few people, beyond the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation, have argued that taxing fat people simply for being fat is a good idea.

At first glance, the Alabama initiative rang warning bells in my head: Government using a blunt instrument to attack a very complicated problem. (And I say that despite the fact that I pay Alabama taxes, which contribute to the health-care costs of state employees.) But now I’m not so sure it’s a bad idea. Being both Southern and fat, I could use an incentive to lose my extra weight. And if I could, so could they. Maybe this kind of program would begin to reverse the tide of obesity in the Deep South. Or maybe a whole bunch of initiatives need trying to find out what will work.

For many people, $300 isn’t a lot of money. But if the fear of diabetes, heart disease, and death isn’t enough to motivate people to lose weight, fees and taxes tend to get everyone’s attention.

(PHOTO: 123RF)
Recent posts by Sean Kelley:

Review: David Barton Gym

Luxury Gym, This is. The gym is impressive -- 3,000+ square feet, which includes state of the art machines, the best locker room in NYC, challenging classes, and eye candy. Did I say the locker room is the Best Locker Room in NYC? It is just like the picture—a dimly lit sanctuary embraced by dark wood… where folks are happy to be naked.

As I walk up the stairs of what seems to be a landmark building I am struck by the sense of regality… like a teen sneaking into the Palladium, circa 1997. As I approach the desk and state (maybe too excitedly) I have a free month membership, the bouncers replied-- back of the line. The male front desk attendant is more interested in flirting with gym members than helping me… but then again this is Chelsea… how mad can you get. I still feel fabulous because I am getting IN.

I do make it to the front of the line and I receive the tour. The facility is pretty amazing the ground floor is all weights. First floor is all cardio machines with a room for spinning and studio gym classes (i.e. MELT, PLEASURE & PAIN). Top floor has the locker rooms and yoga studio. The classrooms on the 1st floor seem kind of small, I wonder how packed the classes get during peak times since you don’t have to RSVP for a class.

The classes have great names… I took the MELT class, which is like working out one-on-one with a personal trainer. In this class we do jumping jacks, push-ups, lunges and squats with weights... and that is just the warm-up. The goal of this class is to MELT the weight away with a blend of cardio & weight training. All of their classes have this kind of theme of using weights and cardio, which we all know from reading one Self Magazine, is crucial to weight loss.

The Gym feels like a club they have music blaring out of the speakers which can get most gym-goer in the zone, however if you love your playlist it maybe hard getting into the zone because they gym music will seep in. If I were a man, this gym would also have a meat market feel to it because everyone is so buff with good skin and perfectly arched brows. I hope maybe by the end of the month I can find a gay BFF.

Last but not least the locker room… The lighting is relaxing. The sauna, I could stay there all day and truly melt the pounds away. The showers are equipped with Bumble Bee products, shaving cream, razors, and the stalls are wide with adjustable showerheads. The mosaic tiles through out the locker room calms you and the price tag for all this is about 115 a month. If it were in Brooklyn I would be tempted.
Complete Article.

As a member of the Bedstuy CSA I am at a loss sometimes at the abundance of veggies we get a week. I often can't finish them in 2 weeks.... I discovered this recipe on Elana's Pantry. A great site for organic healthy recipes.

Kale with Cranberries

2 bunches kale
¼ cup pine nuts (lightly toasted)
¼ cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
Steam the kale until it is bright green
Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet, toast the pine nuts
Allow kale and pine nuts five minutes to cool, then toss together in a large bowl
Add dried cranberries and olive oil
Toss and serve
Serves 8

David Barton Gym

Won a membership to the David Barton Gym on 23rd!! I think this will be just what I need to kick start my fitness goals... i would love to attempt the BedStuy 10K this fall (October) will post information on that when it is available. They have this class called Melt which sounds freakin fantastic.

Gotta Love their motto:


I am Back....

Haven't been able to make this a habit and/or a priority but I will keep on recommitting myself until it becomes 2nd nature. I have had a hard time becoming the 2nd AD i have imagined in my head. But I know that I will be the best commercial 2nd AD soon so till then lets blog about health, fitness and organics.

Salad of the Day-- Mango & Pine Nut Salad from Women's Fitness

Mango And Pine Nut Salad
An eclectic dish with a hefty source of fiber
Maureen Callahan, R.D.

Beans, greens, and mango turn this into a 12-gram fiber fiesta. But the eclectic flavors--tropical mango, spicy Dijon, and buttery pine nuts--will drive that healthy fact right out of your mind.
The Recipe .

Mango And Pine Nut Salad
2 c chopped fresh mango
1/3 c fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp canola or olive oil
2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 c shredded Romaine lettuce
1 c finely shredded red cabbage
1 c thinly sliced scallions
2 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c raw or toasted pine nuts

1. In a mini chopper or a blender, purée ¼ cup mango, OJ, oil, mustard, salt, and pepper.
2. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, cabbage, scallions, beans, remaining mango, and pine nuts. Toss gently. Add vinaigrette and toss just before serving. Divide evenly into four salad bowls.

Makes four servings. Per serving: 372 calories, 14 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 665 mg sodium, 52 g carbs, 12 g fiber, 12 g protein

TIP If you don't have a blender (or the time) to mix up the mango vinaigrette, buy bottled fat-free mango vinaigrette (such as Consorzio).

Recipe from Women’s Health Magazine.


This is a the place for US to learn the about the small changes we can make in our health, home, Our LIFE  that will propel us towards green living. We will also learn and discuss new and old health, diet and exercises.  Since I am a film lover... I will critique one film (old or new) a week. I know this will become a place where women, especially women of color, can embrace a green friendly healthier lifestyles.