Sports commentary: Weighty issues

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Here's a way to solve our obesity, without our government getting fatter

By Mike Forster


"This pricing is unfair," I thought to myself.

It had that thought as the wife and I were shopping for running shoes the other day.

Now, I know that sentence is fraught with incongruities.  For example, the wife and I really shouldn't go shopping for anything together.  At the grocery, while she's filling the cart with staples, such as flour, breakfast cereal and bananas, I'm trying to slip large bags of beef jerky and lime-flavored Tostitos onto it.

Alas, such goodies typically get the boot.

Also, I mentioned something about running shoes.

Well, I'm not much of a runner, whereas the wife is a dedicated one.  Still, for those times when I do put this carcass of mine into a running motion, I need a pair of shoes.

Hence, the trip to the shoe store.

What struck me as unfair is the following.  We bought comparable pairs of shoes in terms of brand and quality.  The big difference is the size.  Where the wife wears a dainty ladies' 7, yours truly dons a banana boat-like 13.

My shoe is heavier, has more material in its composition, has more stitches and is both longer and wider.

In other words, the labor, components and shipping of my shoe are significantly greater than that of the wife.

Yet, both shoes cost the same.  Put another way, someone buying a small shoe is getting less for her (or his) money.

Which got me to thinking about other such inequities.  I wear a size 44 sport coat.  The exact coat in a 38 costs the same.  As does the one in a 52.

Why is that?

The 10-pound bag of fertilizer costs less than the 20-pounder.

A 16-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew costs less than a liter (or quart) bottle, which costs less than the two-liter one.

A quarter-pounder with cheese costs more than a regular cheeseburger.  

That big bag of lime-flavored Tostitos is more costly than is the smaller version.

All this thinking about Mountain Dews and burgers and Tostitos gave me another thought:  Maybe a change in some of these pricing structures could be used to combat our obesity epidemic.

Our current efforts consist of public service announcements on the radio, promoting healthier school lunches and other paltry attempts.

If you want to change behaviors, you need to hit 'em in the pocketbook.

I know there has been talk of a "sugar tax" and the like.  These measures would slap an excise tax on items such as sugary soft drinks and candy bars.

I don't like this approach for two reasons:  It is unfair and it involves government meddling.

My approach would be for clothing retailers to adjust their pricing, making it proportional to the size of the garment.

Bigger people pay for bigger clothes.  You want to pay less?  You become smaller.

This approach is fair because larger individuals are paying for the higher costs of labor, materials and logistics associated with their larger-sized clothing.

I quickly ascertained that this logic could carry over into other areas.  For instance, airline travel.

Currently, a 115-pound woman pays the same airline fare as a 230-pound man.

Meanwhile, the airlines would charge that woman more than that man should she have luggage that weighs more than 50 pounds.

I believe airlines should charge everyone a base fee when they purchase their tickets.  Then, when it comes time to check in for their flights, they step on the scales (with their luggage) and pay an extra fee based on their weights.

You want to fly cheaper?  Lose weight, either from your suitcase or from your belly.

And, what better way to do that than to break out those running shoes?