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Obesity: A Problem With Personal Responsibility

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Obesity: A Problem With Personal Responsibility

Drinking too much water will kill you. However, this is not a reason for the government to regulate how much water people drink. There are many dangers in life that the public should be informed of in order to shape their decisions. Eating too much fatty food can cause serious health issues or death, but the government should not regulate what types and quantities of foods Americans eat. The solution to obesity cannot come from government control of what we eat, but instead, must come from informing the public about nutrition and health. A well-informed public will make more responsible choices than an uninformed population. Spreading information and common sense can prevent obesity. Infringing on civil liberties and limiting the decision-making powers of the people would be to go against the beliefs that our county was founded on. Instead, through knowledge, awareness, and promoting responsibility of the public, obesity can be prevented and eliminated.

The solution to the problem of obesity in America comes from better information being made available to the public and not control over peoples' wills. The government should regulate the labeling of foods with critical health information in restaurants as well as on packaged food. Although packaged food has to be labeled for ingredients, restaurants do not have to abide by the same rules. Restaurants should have to list the ingredients that make up the food being served and even if the nutritional facts are not on the menu, they should be available upon request. By adding ingredient information in restaurants, a well-informed population will force the restaurants to discontinue the use of unhealthy ingredients because they will not want to list them as ingredients.

Not only does information need to be available, it also needs to be more strictly evaluated. Often, authorities contradict each other or even themselves, which makes them less credible sources. Recent information about health focuses on trans fat and its adverse health effects. Trans fat is found in higher quantities in margarine than in butter and is therefore often considered to be quite unhealthy. Today, many nutritionists suggest the use of butter in place of margerine to reduce trans fat intake and increase overall health. However, the Journal of the American Medical Association established in 2000 that a diet using margarine in place of butter lowered bad cholesterol and did not affect the good cholesterol. In fact, the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers (NAMM) claims that "An average consumer could reduce his/her fat intake by approximately 2,000 grams (18,000 calories) each year by simply switching from regular margarine to low-fat margarine [Those calories translate to a weight reduction of five pounds by making this one easy switch.]" This misleading information inclines consumers to make unwise choices and consume less healthy foods. Without the correct information, Americans can and will make incorrect decisions that will negatively affect their health, while they are making a conscious effort to get healthier. If there is a need for more government control in the food industry, it is here. Government should control statements made by health authorities in order to facilitate the circulation of correct information. Food does not need to be controlled because people are capable of making good decisions if they are provided correct information. If these discrepancies are fixed and there is a consensus among the authorities on what is healthy and what is not, then people will have more confidence in the authorities and will be more likely to comply.

If you eat McDonalds for every meal of every day, then you cannot expect to be healthy. The health problems that arise through eating fast foods do not come from the occasional indulgence, they come from a lifestyle of gluttonous behavior. Although many Americans are considered obese, these are not the usually health-conscious, who treat themselves to the occasional cheeseburger. Instead, the obese are those who make a conscious decision to eat unhealthy foods on a daily basis. No one, with all the information available today, could blame the fast food corporations for their own obesity if they choose to eat fast food every day for every meal. The movie, Super Size Me starring Morgan Spurlock, is very realistic in portraying how someone's health will respond to binge eating fast food. This documentary explores the consequences of eating only McDonalds for a month. No intelligent individual could possibly be surprised by the outcome: gaining weight and raising his body mass index (BMI). Although his health problems were extreme, including near-catastrophic liver damage, his course of action was extreme as well. This movie shows that the people who develop serious health problems from eating fast food are those who are completely oblivious to health and insist on eating greasy fast food for every meal. In fact, Scott Caswell provides a different, more realistic perspective in his movie, Bowling for Morgan, where he eats more sensible meals, losing twenty pounds and lowering his cholesterol. Caswell claims, "You don't get fat by eating McDonald's. You get fat by overeating while making documentaries about getting fat." If you try to make yourself become fat or are irresponsible enough to not make good decisions, then you will get fat. However, people who want to spoil themselves at certain times should not be deprived of the apparent difference of taste more fattening foods can have even if it is less healthy.

Instead of interfering in the lives and decreasing the decision-making rights of its citizens, the government should use its public school system already in place in order to educate its citizens. If nutrition is taught schools at a young age, every person will have the knowledge at their disposal to make educated decisions about what they consume. Increasing awareness in the public helps people make better and more logical decisions. Information about food and nutrition can be a very valuable tool when one decides to eat. Schools should either require an extra course on nutrition or change the curriculum of certain classes to include the reading of nutritionally minded books. One such book, Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, is a valuable source of information to make people think twice before they indulge in chemically enhanced French fries. In his book, Schlosser discusses the crude secrets of the fast food industry and why everything is so unhealthy. While these types of curriculum changes will not guarantee results or adherence,



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