When you have a dollar in your pocket for lunch, do you chose the tiny side salad consisting of lettuce and a few vegetables, or a warm, juicy double cheeseburger. The burger will hold you off until dinner and is much more convenient for an employee or student on the go while the salad has the tendency to leave you feeling unsatisfied. The answer seems obvious. We are on the go all the time welcome to 2012, with no time to stop and peel an orange or slice an apple. We need pre-packaged fruit salad for a tasty, convenient, healthy snack.
What may not be noted is our “healthy” snack is probably packed in high calorie syrup and added sugar. If you’re counting calories you should check the ingredients… who has time for that? It’s ok, we can justify that by telling ourselves this fruit cup is high in Vitamin A and C and is a good source of dietary fiber. All of these high calorie fast food options may be convenient, but lead to the overwhelming epidemic of obesity. In Merriam-Webster’s words, epidemic: Affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community or region at the same time.
Epidemic is used so casually due to the lack of understanding as to the magnitude of the word. This is a serious matter. When discussing the ever increasing epidemic of American obesity, it is important to explore with whom the responsibility might fall on; our government, fast food companies or should the responsibility fall on us? Some say that the issue has become a public health crisis that requires a public health solution. In this respect the government may be at fault for the rising causes of obesity.
In the essay, What You Eat Is Your Business, written by libertarian Radley Balko, Balko says, “Instead of manipulating or intervening in the array of food options available to American consumers, our government ought to be working to foster a sense of responsibility in and ownership of our own health and well-being. ” He backs himself up by proposing what some politicians have already suggested which is a “fat tax” on high calorie foods. The point is to hinder people from making poor food choices. To be healthier, would people agree to sign a fat tax bill?
Seems unlikely, but for example, think about the reduction in smokers because of the limited public smoking areas, the Surgeon General’s warning on every pack of cigarettes and the sky rocketing prices. There are a lot less smokers now then before these changes. If the government can foster the same idea in food education, rather than just saying “eat healthy and exercise,” there may be positive results to the obesity epidemic. Now it is realized that something more drastic must be done. The government may not be the only responsible party for what is going on in America, Fast Food corporations have grown into a part of everyday life.
Relentless advertising focused on children with the use cartoon characters and larger portions or extra sizes to entice people. Yves Engler, author of Obesity: Much of the Responsibility Lies with Corporations, points out it’s not only fast food restaurants where unhealthy products are being consumed, but also soft drink companies with high calorie soda pop who are giving money to cash-strapped schools to advertise their product on school televisions. Meanwhile targeting young children who get their parents to buy their products.
Engler proposes a solution regarding the increase in childhood obesity by first stating that vending machines should be removed from schools and the physical education department receive an increase in funding to promote more activity for children and kids sports. Fast food companies, in a capitalist society, are increasing sales by introducing products in schools and by hefty advertising aimed at children which is affecting the health of our youth in terrible ways. This may lead to disease and other health related illness before they reach adulthood.
There is also a stipulation that goes along with obesity related ailments in which we may have to look at ourselves for the answer. One would say that the obesity epidemic blame may lie within ourselves. Although obesity is a public issue, it is also a matter of choice. People eat on the go. They have a craving for something seen on a television commercial, and are usually too tired to get to the gym, or don’t have time and energy to exercise. Unfortunately, disease and illness eventually catch up to the person who eats fast food everyday.
Radley Balko points out that insurance companies are prevented from charging higher premiums to obese people which removes any financial responsibility from the consumer. He supports this by saying “…if the government is paying for my anti-cholesterol medication, what incentive is there for me to put down the cheeseburger. ” In order to make better choices, nutritional labels should be more abundant and explanatory so it is better understood. This may prevent future consequences of society’s health and well-being. Whereas some are ome are convinced that obesity is the result of relentless food stuffs pushed on us by food corporations tempting society, others maintain that it is a personal responsibility and we should be pointing the finger at ourselves, or the government should be exposing consumers to healthier options and lifestyle changes. There are many arguments as to who is responsible for the American obesity epidemic but at the end of the day, the finger will be pointed in all directions and requires the government, fast food corporations and consumers to unite for a sensible solution.