What Should America Do About The Obesity Epidemic?

5 Comments

There is a lot of debate going on in the department of Health on how the Obesity Epidemic should be handled. Obviously their big catchphrase “Eat less, Exercise More” is not really catching on seeing as the obesity rate has doubled since the 80’s. One of the things talked about in my Food and Nutrition class is that the Government is focusing on “fixing” the individual instead of the cause. They are doing a lot of research on metabolism and hunger, instead of thinking of how to make people reach for that carrot instead of the Big Mac. This is one of the reasons why we have gastric surgery because we are focusing on fixing the individual and not the nation. The question is should the government be enforcing rules that everyone has to abide to? Should the government be treating this like any other deadly epidemic? Some of the ideas that have been bouncing around is putting a “twinkie tax” on junk food. This would be similar to the tax put on cigarettes which actually did decrease the amount of cigarettes people bought. The tax money would then go to programs to help educate about nutrition. The problem is the government does not have the funding to compete with the advertising of big companies such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola.

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Raise your hand if you have heard of the site Choosemyplate.org? This is one of the governments way of educating the public. The problem? I didn’t even know this site existed! Not until I took a Food and Nutrition class. A class I was paying for to learn about nutrition. But here is a whole website dedicated to give you lessons about what you should be aiming for and you can even plug in what you have been eating and it gives you a whole report! It even tells you what you need to work on. For Free.

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I am really torn on the subject of what we should be doing as a nation to help people overcome obesity. It can be done! I am living proof of it and I can find hundreds of blogs where people have done it too! The problem with keeping it focused on just the individuals that need help and not the nation is that we are affecting our children. Our children are learning our habits because who else are they going to learn from? We are giving our kids type 2 diabetes before they even reach adulthood. We are making their lives shorter because we do not know how or what to eat.

Honestly, I think advertising for unhealthy food products should be more expensive than healthy foods, especially if these commercials are going to be on kid channels. I do think a tax on junk food would not be the worse thing to happen. It might put things into perspective just how inexpensive healthy food is in the long run. Just think of that tax as money you would spend on medical bills if you buy that food. Every time you load up on sugary processed crap, you might as well be putting money in your “future hospital bill” jar.

We are living in a world where we have become complacent, unfortunately. Where we can preach and tell people that being overweight will slowly kill you, and the expression on people’s faces remain unmoved. Even worse, they just go to the local fast food joint and order that burger filled with empty calories. It’s sad to think that the only way we can get people to really listen is by hitting them where it hurts them most…

Their bank account.

I am interested in knowing what people’s thoughts are on the matter. What would really make you listen? What would make you stop buying the ice cream and instead get Greek yogurt instead?

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5 thoughts on “What Should America Do About The Obesity Epidemic?

  1. I totally agree with you, America does have an epidemic with obesity issues and diabetes. I believe the reason people buy junk food first over organic healthy foods is because its simply cheaper and easy to prepare with today’s life style. Why buy a healthy bag of celery or a vegetable platter to munch on when you can buy a bag of chips and just open it with-out cleaning it. Another pressing issue is people are programed by TV and radio commercials to purchase junk foods and rarely advertise healthy foods. If a healthy food is advertised its almost always processed junk loaded with “rat poison” with all of the additives, preservatives, and artificial flavors to cover up the chemicals. Its a wonder the human race isn’t dead yet. If corporations stopped advertising their junk food products and start advertising healthy foods I feel people would start eating right. Second and third world countries their communities and citizens are tooth picks because they know how to eat healthy foods. If America would do what they are doing we as a whole will probably with time have healthier communities and healthier nation.

  2. Hi, Cassy, what a great and thought-provocative post! I live in Dubai, not America, but we have an obesity epidemic here as well, last year obesity levels were over 40%, so I guess the problems and causes are pretty much the same! I do not we can expect any initiatives from Government regards this problem. Food lobbies are too strong and powerful and have too much cash. Otherwise why a can of processed tomato paste costs less than a bunch of fresh tomatoes?
    And as long as unhealthy food choices are simpler, faster and cheaper – people will keep making them! Why cook if you can order pizza? Why bother buying expensive fresh produce when you can get cheap canned and processed stuff?
    I think that its social media and individual example that can make the real impact right now, since authorities and government are pretty much doing nothing.

  3. I’m going to leave all of the emotional reasons why people overeat and make unhealthy choices off to the side. In my opinion, what remains are education and economics. As you mentioned in your post, there are a lot of resources where people can learn how to eat correctly. Why do they even need to learn? Because schools teach our kids that catsup is a vegetable and TV shows us that fast-food is great for every meal. But even if everyone knew how to make the right choices, many couldn’t afford them. It’s much cheaper eating out of boxes than buying fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. Some people in large urban areas might not even have access to these types of foods. Instead of giving subsidies to farmers to destroy or not produce crops, there should be incentives to produce more and to get fresh produce where it’s needed. Ultimately, it always comes down to choice but if you’re not aware of your choices or simply can’t afford to make the right choice…then what?

  4. Another excellent post! The thing is, you can educate the heck out of people but companies are out to make money and they do that by making cheap junk food that people will buy because it’s convenient and easy. Yeah there’s a lot more to it than that, but you know what I mean? As for the tax, I don’t think it would change my habits personally. Like if I want to buy a candy bar, I’ll pay the tax without even thinking about it. It won’t keep me from buying and eating it.

    I wonder what other options are out there to help people. I can say from my own experience that my weight problem started with my family. I was allowed to have crappy eating habits and maybe even encouraged. I don’t know where I’m going with that but it seems like there should be a lot of different options that could potentially help our country become healthier as a whole.

  5. It is a very interesting point. Malta retains worst child obesity rate in Europe after the UK so it is also a big issue here too. What I like is that the school are doing a “healthy day” and they give children veggies and fruit. Chocolate bars and salty snacks aren’t accepted primary and second schools so they make sure to eat healthy. However when they go home not all parents teach the kids the same values. Everyone knows why they should eat healthy but they are addicted like drugs to junk food. Most the obese adults that have children don’t want their kids to be like them but if they don’t set a good example their kids will turn out to be just the same, I am changing now because I would never want my kids to struggle with weight as I have.

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