I had this idea for a while. I finally wrote it down and sent it out (last weekend) to one of my state senators and to two state representatives. I heard back, in a positive manner, from the senator's office. Read through it and let me know what you think.
The goal of the Good Health Initiative Tax Rebate is to promote better health. This would be an optional participation tax rebate that can be filed for when filing regular annual taxes by individuals. People filing jointly can include rebate paperwork for each person. People not filing regular annual taxes cannot participate in the rebate. The Good Health Initiative Tax Rebate would simply be a single page document filled out by a healthcare or certified personal training professional, within 30 days of filing taxes, that lists the following:
Body type: average or athletic
Lean body mass
Total body water with breakdown of extracellular and intracellular water
Basal metabolic rate
Waist to hip ratio
Body mass index
The people who would receive the rebate, a total of $365 ($1/day for the year), would be those deemed by a healthcare or certified personal training professional to be in “good health”. Those deemed overweight or obese, or underweight or anorexic, will simply not qualify for the rebate for the filing year. Average body types (fits standard BMI) and athletic body types (higher muscle weight with lower body fat) should be taken into consideration.
Outside of regular tax filing season, people should be encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and having a healthy diet. This is an effort to reduce obesity in America. Healthy people can get rewarded with a little rebate. Unhealthy people, whether too thin or too fat, will simply not be qualified for the Good Health Initiative Tax Rebate. No one will be penalized for not participating, as this would be an optional tax rebate.
Body type: average or athletic - Body type is based on either fitting into the standard BMI as “average” or, for athletes who have more muscle mass, an adjusted BMI for higher muscle weight with lower body fat for “athletic”. It’s important to determine this distinction because athletes tend to have higher BMIs because the BMI doesn’t take into consideration muscle mass.
Average BMI Chart - Harvard Medical School
Body weight - This is simply a weight measurement in pounds. This is done by using a medical-grade scale.
Body fat - Body fat is usually measured as a percentage. This needs to be done with a medical-grade bioelectrical impedance analysis scale, hydrodensitometry, air displacement plethysmography, or a DEXA scan. Below is the average body fat in general age ranges for men and women according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Tape measurements and fat calipers will not be used as acceptable means for calculating body fat due to less reliable results.
Lean body mass - Lean body mass is a calculation of what you would weigh if you removed all body fat. This includes the weight of bones, muscles, bodily fluids, organs, and connective tissues. This can help determine if a person is “average” or “athletic”. It can also determine if a person has too low of lean body mass, which is unhealthy.
Total body water with breakdown of extracellular and intracellular water - This is just a calculation of how much body water you have total, along it broken down into extracellular (outside of cells) and intracellular (water inside of cells). Dehydration and overhydration can have damaging results to the body.
Basal metabolic rate - This is a measurement of energy a person expends during a neutral resting period. The BMR is used to determine what is considered overeating or a caloric deficiency for the individual. If Person A has a BMR of 1353 calories, then eating a 1200 calorie diet and exercising regularly will have that person losing weight. If Person A decides to eat 2000 calories each day and not bother with exercising, they will gain weight.
Waist to hip ratio - This is an accepted ratio by medical professionals to determine overall fat distribution.
Body mass index - Body mass index is a height to weight ratio. Two BMI charts need to be used: standard BMI as “average” or, for athletes who have more muscle mass, an adjusted BMI for higher muscle weight with lower body fat for “athletic”. An athletic BMI would have to be created. It would be easy to ask if the NPC or IFBB, along with the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL would submit appropriate numbers to the Center of Disease Control for the creation of a new Athletic BMI Chart.
Average BMI Chart - Harvard Medical School
Blood pressure - Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure caused by blood flow as systolic and diastolic. Low blood pressure or high blood pressure can be indicative of other health issues that should be looked into.
Body temperature - The typical body temperature is generally 97F to 99F with the average being 98.6F. Body temperatures below this average can be indicative of health issues such as hypothyroidism. Higher body temperatures typically indicate fever.
These various body calculations may seem daunting to some, but there are all-in-one machines that can produce these readings such as the Rice Lake D1000 Body Composition Analyzer, Tanita TBF-400, Tanita DC-430U, Tanita DC-13C, Charder MA-601, Charder MA-801, Charder MBF6000, Charder MBF6010, Jawon X-Scan Plus 970, Jawon X-Scan Plus 950, Jawon X-Contact 357 S, Jawon X-Contact 356, Jawon X-Contact 350, InBody 270, InBody 570, InBody 770, and the Bod Pod. These are common machines that can be found and utilized in the office of any healthcare or personal trainer’s office. These machines can usually provide a printout or be connected to a computer in order to provide a print out of the results. Blood pressure machines or standard bp cuffs are very common and affordable to obtain. Thermometers come in a variety of styles and are also common and easily obtained. Having these calculations made available can help get a person started or help them continue on their journey to a healthier lifestyle. This can be done as easily as getting a physical check-up.
Obesity and those underweight are a growing concern throughout the nation. According to the CDC, 18.5% of youths from ages 2-19 are obese and 42.5% of adults are obese. According to a study in The Lancet, in 2014 underweight adults were found to be 8.8% in men and 9.7% in women on a global scale. These are the two extremes of “poor health”. These are the problems the Good Health Initiative Tax Rebate would be aiming to correct.
Obesity does drive up healthcare rates. This has been documented over and over again. Obesity is linked to several (possibly preventable) chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, sleep apnea, musculoskeletal issues, general mobility issues, poor immune systems, an increase in migraines, and gallbladder disease.
Further sources can easily be found on obesity and underweight issues.
Positive promotion of the Good Health Initiative Tax Rebate is essential. I would suggest positive promotion through art (create a cool poster or two for this), create a positive informational video and have it on youtube, and sit down with NPR for a discussion about it. There are enough fitness channels on youtube and fitness podcasts who would definitely start discussing this.
One big issue that the nation faces are “fat activists”. These people promote being obese with popular sayings like “It’s my right to be fat”, “Flaunt your rolls”, and “My fat is not your concern”. It tends to be very subjective and feeling-oriented. I can only presume that the fat activists would be the major voice against this tax rebate idea. The hope is to inspire these people to put some effort into themselves so they can eventually get the tax rebate.
I get readers, but I don't get a lot of post replies. I'm interested in your thoughts. Do you like this idea? Do you hate it? Either way -- why? Yes, I have sent it out to some people in government. I would be interested in working with others in a think-tank aspect of fleshing this idea out some more.