Weighing in on questions about your waist size

Daily cartoon

It’s a funny culture we live in when we think our waist sizes are personal information.

Your Social Security number is personal. Your email password is personal. But the shape of your body, as unfortunate as it may be, isn’t fooling anybody.

Some Oregon state workers have balked at filling out a health questionnaire that asks for their waist circumference as a means of indicating a person’s risk for diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses caused by extra pounds. They have said the question is offensive, and asked for it to be removed from the Health Engagement Model plan.

Among the most outspoken opponents of the plan is Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, who told the?Salem Statesman Journal the question is “humiliating.”

The plan is intended to increase the health of its participants. After filling out the survey, the state workers will participate in two wellness activities — they can pick from physical challenges, more in-depth health screenings or online lessons.

The carrot, so to speak, for those who participate is a $17.50 addition to their monthly paycheck. The stick is $100 in added fees to non-participants’ medical deductible.

It’s a good plan, in that it encourages people to think about their health. And sometimes that’s the most difficult step.

The Public Employees’ Benefit Board has given in a bit and said a person’s Body Mass Index, also a good indicator of health issues, can be used instead of waist size. It’s a fair compromise, though not pleasing to everyone, including Johnson.

The truth is, we’re all built differently and have different risks and problems associated with our bodies. For some, the problem stems from being overweight. Instead of taking offense, ignoring the problem or lying about it, we should honestly address the issue.

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