Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Are Americans Getting Fat? A Bit of a Rant!

OK--here we go on a real sensitive subject.

Are Americans getting lazy and fat?

My recent experience at Disney for six days seems to indicate that we are and, worse, there are companies making a lot of money on the overweight disability by renting scooters to further assist in enabling our over-eating and under-exercising.
Disney is overrun with obese people on scooters. They are everywhere. And here is the problem. While wheelchairs have right of way over pedestrians, motorized scooters do not--but yet the pilots of these dangerous (more on that later) vehicles do not recognize the rights of way that pedestrians have. I was cut off numerous times while pushing a stroller with two children in it by these denizens of the walkways.
And here is the real rub. It appeared to us that many able, but heavy people rent these scooters at the park to receive preferential treatment. They don't have to walk and they get special treatment on the rides and attractions--like going to the front of the line.

Obviously, this is just an observation with no scientific basis to support it, but really, the number of people riding these dangerous vehicles is astounding. AND--it really rubs me raw when in one instance we have been waiting through three monorails to get aboard to get back to the hotel and one of these scooters was escorted to the front of the line and our party of four adults and two small children with a large stroller were unceremoniously told to step aside--again. Why can't they wait like everyone else?

As for dangerous. Don't get me wrong--there are people who really need these marvels of technology to assist with their living and enjoyment of life. But they need to be careful.

While at the Animal Kingdom we were part of a real world emergency associated with a scooter accident. An 80-year old gentleman weighing about 350 lbs toppled his scooter when it ran up the side of a walkway. The scooter was so top heavy that it went right over sideways with a crash and thud. The man was attached to an oxygen tank and unable to move once on the ground. Mike and I rendered assistance which included determining that he was not seriously injured and notifying the park staff of the emergency (Nicole did this). We placed a blanket under his head for both support and comfort (contribution of Jax) and helped untangle him from the scooter so he could be comfortable while waiting for the emergency response team. The man's family was concerned about trying to sit him up so we waited for the health professionals to arrive to perform this task so that we would not dislocate anything (either on us or him).

The scooter issue aside though. There are a lot of morbidly obese people. And children. Maybe they just tend to vacation at Disney, but we saw them in numbers that exceed what we normally see in our places of work. And we feel much sympathy for them on two points. First, they are products of our "more is better" society. Second, they are discriminated against and I feel guilty for how I feel about the scooter issue, but since they are products of our society I wonder what our medical and scientific communities are doing to help alleviate the hugely obese issue that we are creating. The strain on health care is going to be enormous (pun intended)--probably greater than any other disability at some point. We need to begin addressing this issue soon.


Anonymous said...

Bob, you are right on! I think one way to help this problem is for the scooter companies (if a obese person is buying this product)need to go to a doctors prescription and the doctor needs to put this person on a diet and excerise program that they monitor. These people would feel better about themselves.
I also think that places like Disney should not allow them to have special treatment - that would curb that one! Only people with true disabilities (not obesity) should be allowed special treatment.

Michael Haslup said...

"immediately, if not sooner"

Anonymous said...

OMG this drove us all crazy!!! I don't think you should be able to rent them without a Dr's note. Maybe I should feel more sympathy but when they were riding around cutting in front of us eating ice cream, it just really irked me!!!

Anonymous said...

I went to nearby Walt Disney World (an hour away from my home near Tampa) last month and I didn't mind those fat guys on scooters. I dealt with them, being that they're just as common as those tour groups (usually from Brazil) swarming the paths through, say, Innoventions at Epcot.

The obesity rate is skyrocketing, even since all the parks phased out trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils, began hewing out traces of Maccas, and offering healthier items. It's about portions and the amount of produce (as well as the right amount of protein) while dining out at WDW! Oh, and I usually bring my own food discretely in the parks, mind you. Thankfully, I obtained a Seasonal Pass last month near Christmas as a gift and an incentive to exercise.

Then again, I have to deal with the behemoths of morbidly obese people, just as with Brazilians in monotone T-shirts guided by a flag-bearer.

Anonymous said...

I just got back from Disney, did a search for "obese people on scooters", and found this blog on page one. I didn't even put "Disney" in my search parameters!

After one week in Disney I just couldn't take the scooter situation anymore. If I had to stand and wait at a busstop, while they lowered the bus, lowered a ramp, removed seats (forcing other people to stand) one more time I think I was going to lose it.

It got to the point where I was checking out nearly everyone on a scooter and deciding if they deserved my internal hate or not. People with missing limbs; no problem. People with fat cascading over the edge of the seat while eating turkey legs; problem. I'm not proud of feeling this way, but it was too much to take!

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