Timely health tip for lawmakers

Lawmakers and staffers at the Statehouse, shown here, have been partciipating in a health-enhancement program that includes better nutrition and exercise. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith).

Politicians routinely vow to “trim the fat” from government. Unfortunately, such campaign promises are rarely kept.

Still, while the state budget wastes a significant chunk of taxpayer money, the South Carolina General Assembly has shed some literal poundage.

As reported in Tuesday’s Post and Courier, nearly 200 lawmakers, lobbyists and government staff members have participated in a “Healthier Statehouse” initiative over the last year, following guidance toward more nutritious eating —and more exercise.

In coordination with the S.C. Hospital Association and the Fitbit activity tracking company, the program produced a combined weight loss of 98 pounds among the 57 participants who “screened out” — which including weighing in — at the end of the session.

OK, so that’s less than two pounds per person.

Hey, that outcome beats a collective weight gain. And the program’s documented success is being touted — and offered — to officials in other state capitols where too many folks working in government aren’t exactly svelte.

Of course, the burdens of power add to the difficulty of this task.

As Rozalynn Goodwin, a lobbyist who serves as “vice president for engagement with the hospital association,” told our reporter, governing pressures undermine attempts by lawmakers and their staffs to adopt a “Healthier Statehouse” lifestyle. She explained:

“They have long hours — unpredictable hours — they’re sitting in meetings, and the food that’s made available is not the best.”

Ms. Goodwin added that the companies feeding those who serve in the Statehouse are being encouraged to correct that menu problem:

“We suggested they provide choices so people don’t just have barbecue, macaroni and cheese, and banana pudding every time.”

Meanwhile, though, we suggest that state lawmakers could avoid such long hours — and those tasty temptations — if they would do more productive, timely bipartisan legislating and less procrastinating.

And that would produce not just a “Healthier Statehouse,” but a more efficient state government.