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When I see an especially large person I feel for them. I can’t help but think there’s a thin person inside wanting to get out.

I know this admission opens me to charges that I’m prejudiced or biased or immature or discriminatory or worse. But I honestly don’t look upon large people in a negative way. As I said, I feel for them. I wonder sometimes what they’d do differently or how they’d act differently if they could regain their thinner person of yesteryear. This is one reason I like NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” This program doesn’t make fun of people like other reality shows. It helps people.

Obesity is now rivaling tobacco, we’re told, as the number one preventable health problem facing Americans. Obesity, not just the clinical definition thereof, but people whose weight problem goes way past that the percentage of body fat considered mismatched with ones age and height. Americans have a problem, a big one. No pun intended.

Some 64% of Americans adults are considered overweight, 33% of those in the obese category. If that’s not enough, about 15% of kids 6-19 years are overweight. This puts us at much higher risk of cancer. Yet health professionals tell us we could cut our cancer risks in half simply be avoiding smoking, eating plenty of fruits and veggies with a lower fat diet, and—wait for it—exercising regularly. Not rocket science but equally powerful.

I know not everyone who is large or even obese is in this condition because of poor lifestyle choices. Some people indeed have medical problems that result in weight gain.

But for most of us, this is not the case. For most of us our weight is what we choose it to be. Or at least it’s a result of our choices—what we eat too much and how we exercise or otherwise remain active too little.

It’s also a product of our values, which for many people seem absorbed uncritically from surrounding culture. I travel a great deal, so I see substantial differences in people and restaurant portions by region or country. Travel in my home area of the American Midwest and you’ll see greater numbers of large or obese people than anywhere else in the country.

Go to most American restaurants and you’ll be served platters and drinks so large that by comparison what you purchase in Europe or the Middle East seem dinky rip-offs. But they’re really not. Portion size elsewhere matches what ours used to be. We’re into Super Sizing and Big Gulps about anywhere we go—portion distortion. Even “nicer” restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory are noted for their large servings. It’s great. I like it too, but that’s the point, it’s all too easy to like and like often.

Regular exercise is probably more difficult for some of us than eating right. I don’t know, depends upon the personality involved. I frankly catch it in binges, which isn’t good. I’ll exercise regularly, eat right, drop weight, then a few weeks or months later, especially in winter, put the weight back on.

I’ve dieted and lost 30 pounds or more about 5 maybe 6 times in the last 15 years back into my 40s. I’m glad I’ve been able to do this, in part to set an example for three sons who one day will face the same challenge, but this yoyo isn’t the best way to go.

Some of this exercise thing gets back to how the economy and professions have changed. We’re no longer a nation of farmers, woodsmen, and trappers. We’re not what we used to be as a nation of factory workers laboring daily and vigorously in manufacturing plants. We’re mostly office workers, desk jockeys. More of us use minds rather than muscles to earn a living and we’re sedentary while we do it. So work isn’t as calorie-eating as it once was.

Not to get too philosophical about it, but I do think American obesity is tied in with the current cultural zeitgeist, i.e. “spirit of the times.” Americans are into “excess.” We eat more than is healthy, pursue habits that are not good for us, and spend way more than our means. The budgets of every level of American government are also obese. We want more so we spend more. We want to eat so we eat. We try to eat and buy our way to happiness. But it doesn’t work.

So, I’m back on a diet. Don’t like it, but I’m working so it’s working. Pounds are disappearing. This is good, but here’s to committing to sustaining a proper weight and leaving the yoyo behind.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at



Recent and increasing violence against healthcare workers has hospital administrators and healthcare professionals worried.

Where once “bad words,” belligerent attitudes, or arguments defined the extent of upset people’s reactions to healthcare situations they didn’t like, now these people are crossing the line into aggressive behavior. Several incidents across the country seem to suggest people are thinking, to quote a movie, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

Theories for why this is happening range from “We have a dysfunctional healthcare system,” to “See, we need Obamacare” to “It’s the healthcare system treating people poorly,” to “It’s the fact healthcare has become a commodity,” to “We need to hire more security,” to “Doctors and nurses should realize people are under a lot of stress.” Maybe any or all of these observations bear consideration. But I think the problem is deeper than this.

In fact, I don’t think violence against healthcare professionals has anything to do, per se, with healthcare. One reason I believe this is that violent behavior is on the rise across American society, not just within health services. People are acting out violently, more than ever before, in schools: Virginia Tech—military bases: Fort Hood—public political events: Congressman Gabrielle Giffords—and more.

The reason violence is increasing in American society is because our moral consensus about right and wrong, and how to teach these principles to children, has long sense fractured and declined. An entire generation, if not more than one, has grown up (not matured) without being taught:

--Moderation: it’s OK, in fact it’s better, not to let it all hang out,

--Responsibility: a sense of what they owe the world as opposed to what the world owes them,

--Accountability: we all have limits and we all are rightly constrained by morality, law, and common decency,

--Stewardship: you are vested with talent and time and are expected to use them wisely to care for yourself and your family,

--Respect: each human being deserves our respect as a person if not always as a person acting properly,

--Faith: trust in the Lord and our families to care for us more than we trust in healthcare, the government, or any other entity.

I could go on, but these are the basics. American society is in trouble because American culture is in trouble. We’ve jettisoned values that made us strong in the first place and now we wonder why we’re fraying on all the edges.

I don’t excuse those who act violently. They are responsible and should be accountable for their behavior. But their parents, religion, and culture failed them. To “fix” the problem we need to go back to basics: “In Adams Fall we sinned all,” and go from there.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at


What I like about President George W. Bush’s veto of Congress’s recent embryonic stem cell legislation is that it is clearly based upon principle, not politics. Bush could have changed his long-standing belief that the destruction of embryos is murder and simply “gone along to get along.” But he didn’t. Even his own party largely deserted him as more Republicans are sounding like Democrats, at least on this issue.

Bush deserves credit for standing up for the sanctity of life. Media reports de-emphasize Bush’s principled perspective, making his veto sound like a political bone he’s tossing to “social conservatives, the heart of Bush’s base.” That base may exist and it may be happy with this decision, but if Bush really wanted to make just a politically motivated decision or if he wanted to shore up is waning popularity, he would not have vetoed this bill.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, called Bush’s veto a “colossal mistake.” I don’t think so. No matter what else happens in Bush’s presidency and no matter where the future stem cell debate may lead, this example of “acting presidential” will be remembered. I salute him.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at

The U.S. Surgeon General’s latest report is that secondhand smoke is dangerous to people’s health—period. Surgeon General Richard Garmona says “The debate is over.” Secondhand smoke is a health hazard. According to the report, nearly 50,000 people die from secondhand smoke each year. People exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work are 30% more likely to contract cancer, heart disease, or other serious health problems.

Yet we are making progress. According to the U.S. Public Health Service, some 42% of adults smoked in the 1960s. Today less than 21% of adults smoke.

I’m old enough to remember cigarette commercials and smoke-filled restaurants. And I’m old enough to remember when cigarette commercials disappeared and when restaurants and other public spaces first developed “non-smoking” sections and then became “smoke free.” If you aren’t old enough to remember these things, watch movies from the 1960s and earlier and witness the actors, especially the women, smoke one cigarette after another. What was cool then is not cool now.

I like the smell of some cigar or pipe smoke, but frankly, I’ve never understood the appeal of smoking. It’s a dirty—to one’s teeth and one’s breath, as well as the nearby physical space—unhealthy, expensive habit. It provides no nutritional value. It enslaves people to the need for the next smoke. It’s no longer considered suave or debonair.

Smoking is even threatening to the environment. I’ve long maintained that smokers litter more than any other person. Non-biodegradable cigarette butts clog city sewers, start forest fires, and otherwise pollute the landscape in manner that costs the public significant sums for clean-up.

From a Christian point of view, though, I cannot say categorically that smoking is a sin. I could, like many people do, make the scripturally based argument that one should not debase or destroy one’s own body, made in the image of God and for believers the temple of the Holy Spirit. And this would be correct. God commands us to care for our own bodies. But he did not say “You shall not smoke.” Then again, not everything we can do we should do.

We can make a bodily stewardship argument about a lot of things, including perhaps alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, excessive sugar or salt, and desserts. And in today’s American experience, we can also warn each other about over-eating and becoming overweight.

In any event, the secondhand smoke evidence allows us to encourage people to give up smoking. There are just too many good reasons not to take this step. If you quit smoking you protect your health and may extend your life. You protect the health of those around you. You save money on tobacco purchases and on health care. You don’t pollute the environment. You’re not enslaved to the next smoke, and you set a good example.

When I was a child of maybe six or seven, my Grandfather Lewis “Bones” Davis quit smoking. He didn’t make any grand spiritual issue out of this act. He simply made the choice because he had three grandsons, of which I was one of the two oldest. Later, he eventually had thirteen grandchildren in all. He quit smoking because he did not want any of us to see him smoke and then start smoking ourselves. To my knowledge only one grandchild ever smoked, and he quit after a time. My grandfather’s example bore good fruit and is still bearing it today.

Smoking is not the worst habit someone can acquire, but it’s not a good habit either. I’m not anti-smokers, just anti-smoking. I know it’s difficult, but I encourage smokers to quit.


© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow him at