A Year Without 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 who wants them (even if that included every single 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.

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15 thoughts on “A Year Without Diets

  1. Great post! Also .. in the money tersm … what gets spent on correcting the damage caused by dieting? The health bills for lap bands gone wrong or the councelling for depression sprung from low self esteem that the diet industry can exacerbate. The list goes on ….

    1. Count intensive eating disorder treatment in that too. The PHP program I attended (which was absolutely necessary to save my life at that time) cost $500 a day and I was there a good 60 days. IP is even more expensive. It’s funny that insurance companies want to try to prevent people from being fat but it would have been far, far cheaper for them in the long run if I’d just let my body be what it was meant to be.

  2. Really, really cool post today. I love the food for thought. I often wonder what (women especially) could talk about or accomplish if we didn’t spend/waste time nitpicking our lovely bodies and their myriad parts.

    I already have a day planner to which I’m very attached. Incidentally, I got it for free in a contest held by Read My Hips author Kim Brittingham! Once I get attached to a day planner format, it’s very hard to get me to budge and try something else. That said, maybe I’ll get a copy of Marilyn’s anyway, and leave it somewhere as a mystery gift, or use it as a journal, or…I dunno.

    As always, thanks for your outstanding, thoughtful posts.

  3. I love this.

    I just had my first-Thanksgiving-without-guilt-over-what-I-eat and it was amazing. And, you know something? I think I ate better (read: less excessive portions, well-balanced choices) than ever – because there was no stress or guilt hanging over my head. 🙂 Love it.

    Next year, I am going to try movement-for-health’s-sake for the first time too. (I’m a recovering exercise-is-only-good-enough-if-I’m-losing-weight person.) And not so that I can be reaching for a half-marathon or squeezing into a different size of jeans. Just because. Just for me. Just because I like it. This is revolutionary for someone who used to spend 2+ hours a day at the gym, 5 days a week, reaching for just those two other things.

    My mantras have become “anything I do is more than doing nothing” and “any speed I walk is faster than sitting down”. 🙂

    Thank you for teaching me that no one has ever hated themselves healthy.

  4. This amazes me. All we hear on the news is how nobody has two dimes (or is it nickels or pennies?) to rub together and that we just CAN’T pay our teachers or spend so much on things like health care and yet we piss away 60 BILLION dollars on things that have rarely ever worked for anyone ( very good percentage of which were never intended to work anyway…if it worked we wouldn’t need it anymore!) This world has gone mad.

  5. Ah, but what about all those people who are employed in various aspects of the diet industry – why, they’d be out of work! It’s amazing what we focus on in our society, isn’t it? But it’s good to remind all of us that if WE just don’t spend any more time, money or other psychic energy on this nonsense that OUR time, money and psychic energy can be so much more productively spent on our lives and for the lives of others. That’s my goal anyway – !

    Thank you, Ragen, for reminding us of this – and now I’m off to take a walk. Just cuz, you know?

  6. Great post! It’s amazing what could be done if the weight loss industry wasn’t getting all that wasted money. 2012 will be the first year I haven’t dieted in years and I am relieved not to have to make the pointless New Years resolution of going on a diet.

  7. When I saw the headline to this blog post, I couldn’t help thinking of the Great American Apparel Diet, which encouraged folks to go an entire year without buying any new clothing.


    This of course would make your proposal akin to a Great American Diet Diet … The term is incorrect for the purpose, but it made me laugh all the same.

  8. Thanks for expanding on my Opportunity Cost list with so many brilliant ones, Ragen! I love it!!! (It makes me good and angry—a powerful combination.)

    With the money Americans waste every year hoping to fit into a pair of jeans with a different number on the tag, we could end child hunger and food insecurity. The irony! (That’s just one word for it.)

  9. And I’m sure the UK would show proportionately staggering figures if you looked into it.

    If anyone really wants to improve people’s health, surely it makes sense to focus on things that are actually possible. When certain medical people started saying ‘even a weight loss of only 10% improves health’, I suppose they thought that sounded more do-able to many people than ‘lose 100lbs by Thursday’…but it’s still the wrong approach given that nobody, however they eat or exercise, really has any control over how much weight they lose. Whereas things like exercising for 30 minutes or eating more fruit and veg are way more under the individual’s control, more sustainable, and more beneficial. Providing support for people to do those things where they may be finding it difficult (safer places for physical activity, more affordable produce, f’rinstance) is where any health campaign should be starting. As these figures so clearly show, an enormous amount of money that could be spent in that area is being wasted on something that harms, rather than helps, people’s health. Crazy.

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