Paper 2-Explanatory Synthesis
Obesity and the overall public health are becoming increasingly large problems America. Many people are split on ideas as to what is causing this health crisis. “Don’t Blame the Eater” by David Zinczenko, and “What You Eat Is Your Business” by Radley Balko are two essays that discuss problems with the current system as well as potential solutions to these problems. While Zinczenko argues that the problem is coming from a lack of information on the products being consumed, Balko claims that there isn’t enough personal responsibility caused by too much government influence.
The essay “Don’t Blame the Eater” argues that the major problems involving obesity are caused by poor knowledge of what we are eating. There is also a lack of affordable alternatives to fast-food. This is especially evident for teenagers who don’t have the money to purchase healthier, more expensive products for themselves. Another issue is that the fast-food chains don’t have to label their packages with nutritional information causing a lack of knowledge about the food that is being put into our bodies. These lacks of alternative options and information make the fast-food chains seem like the best choice available for food which contributes to the national obesity.
“What You Eat Is Your Business” states that the solution to obesity can’t be found in government sanctions or changes within the fast-food restaurants. Rather, the solution lies with the people, meaning that a sense of personal responsibility should be established regarding one’s health. Balko says that government intervention will cripple any current sense of responsibility in the nation and essentially do nothing but cost citizen’s more money. If a sense of responsibility is given to the citizens, then they will make better decisions creating a healthier nation with less required government intervention.
Today, extreme amounts of tax dollars are being spent every year on medication for obesity and health related issues. Zinczenko and Balko both agree that there is too much money being put into these areas for treatment of diseases when prevention is a far more effective method. The rise of the fast-food industry in the past few years has caused a sharp increase in the amount of childhood diabetes cases in America. Forty-four years ago, “diabetes accounted for $2.6 billion in health care costs” while today it has grown to “an unbelievable $100 billion a year” (Zinczenko 392). Also, when President Bush was in office, he “earmarked $200 million in his budget for anti-obesity measures” (Balko 396). Some people may argue that the people are benefitting from this money because it is paying for their medicine for diabetes and saving lives, but do these systems really help our health or harm it? Balko states that because of the health care assistance we are receiving, we are essentially “becoming less responsible for our own health, and more responsible for everyone else’s” (Balko 396).
For example, since the government is paying for our obesity related medications, there is less of an incentive for people to stop eating poorly. Providing for the citizens in this way, according to Balko, is eliminating any sense of personal responsibility belonging to Americans further injuring their health. Zinczenko on the other hand isn’t entirely opposed to the use of the government’s medical systems, but he does think that people should possess a certain amount of personal responsibility regarding their health. Zinczenko feels that this lack of responsibility is caused by a lack of alternative food options rather than free medication. He says that food alternatives are often either too difficult to find in the masses of fast-food restaurants that line the streets, or too expensive for people to regularly turn to. This is especially evident amongst teenagers who may not have much money to spend on food, helping to contribute to the increase in obesity of the younger generations.
Many people are also split on how much influence the government should have regarding what can be sold and what information should be displayed on the packaging. Zinczenko argues that the fast-food companies don’t provide enough warning on their labels as to what the product can do to you if eaten too often. He also states that if there are any warnings or nutritional information available on the packaging, it can sometimes “be hard to understand” (Zinczenko 393). Zinczenko believes that providing more informative labels on packaging could help to inform consumers about the foods they are purchasing and allow them to make healthier choices. In theory, this would ultimately lead to an America that knows more about the dangers of binging on fast-food and result in a healthier nation. Balko on the other hand feels that the less influence the government has on food products the better.
He refers again to personal responsibility being important because it can suppress government influence. When “everyone is responsible for everyone else’s well-being, a society is more apt to accept government restrictions” (Balko 397). This means that the government can control what products are allowed on menus or in stores and can “hold food companies responsible for the bad habits of unhealthy consumers” (Balko 397). If the people are more responsible, then there will in turn be less government influence in the food industry. While Zinczenko and Balko have different opinions on solutions, they both agree that there are major problems involving our nation’s health. Whether people need to be more informed about their food, or they need to retain a greater sense of personal responsibility, we must continue searching for a solution to the national health crisis.
Balko, Radley. What You Eat Is Your Business. Cato.org, 2004. Essay. Zinczenko, David. Don’t Blame the Eater. New York City: New York Times, 2002. Essay.