Blog entry by Kate Williamson
Most American people view obesity as a public health problem. A broad majority of Americans believe that it is not only a problem affecting individuals, but it has consequences for their societies beyond individual impacts. Only 31% of Americans indicate that impacts of obesity affect the obese rather than the entire society. However, the public has expressed mixed reactions about the issue and suggest that the government should not be for the obesity issue. Statistics indicate that 54% of Americans are against involvement of the government in obesity reduction and 42% support government initiatives. Therefore, obesity issue continues to raise different interests as well as public concerns. Most indicate that obesity should not be perceived as an epidemic or as a public health problem. This has been known to spark debates as to whether laws altogether with repercussions including fat taxes can be implemented in order to reduce obesity. A question remains from the two conflicting sides on who should be involved in fixing the obesity problem. The foundation of American values supports the view that obesity is a personal issue, and is not the responsibility of the government to get involved in individual matters, in which no harm is done to others.
American Debate on Obesity
A continuous debate has prevailed in the United States as people oppose and other propose that obesity should be addressed through government policies since it can be perceived as a public epidemic. This debate continues to range from both public and personal levels, and obesity has emerged as a complex issue. Contributions of obesity emerge from various sources including social and scientific sources. Whilst most people in the United States view obesity as a public health problem, they remain divided in opinions whether their country makes progress or even losing ground on obesity. Currently, the American Medical Association (AMA) has declared that obesity will be considered as a disease. However, this has been debated by most Americans and has become a serious problem troubling the American society. The debate is focused on the abdication of individual responsibility as well as invitation towards government meddling.
Opponents of obesity as an epidemic argue that although obesity appears to be a real problem, movement by AMA can be perceived as a way for its followers to acquire federal money through obesity treatment cover under health plans by the government. Moreover, AMA’s decision tends to shift the responsibility of obesity and weight loss from the personal level to the societal level. Therefore, the expanded Medicare as well as insurance coverage tends to socialize the costs of treatment of obesity hence giving a chance for government mischief. Furthermore, being fat is no longer the people’s fault and the blame can be placed on food companies, advertisements among other things that need regulation. In this case, people pay for food altogether with exercise choices hence has a right to take part in controlling their habits. No person is willing to reduce the pain from those facing weight problems. However, government involvement through discriminatory policies does not solve the problem. In other words, setting rules and policies to reduce obesity in the United States at government levels can make the matter worse.
Positive Aspects of Growth in Obesity
There are possible hypotheses towards the explanation of secular changes in levels of obesity in the United States. People argue that obesity came as a historical phenomenon that was related to high status since not all people could afford to acquire food that made them fat. This essentially holds that weight plays as a signal based on asymmetric data about health hence providing an alternative to a conjecture of change of technology. This emphasizes on food prices as well as the influences of technological changes. The positive impacts of obesity are mostly explained by economists who view it as a positive outcome of diet and exercise. Neoclassical theory explains obesity in terms of technology that has had a huge influence on increased rates of obesity.
Sedentary technological changes have played a huge role in lowering real prices of food stuff altogether with the physical consumption of calories for every hour worked in the household and market production. Technological changes have also increased market production providing a competitive alternative for household consumption meaning that obesity can be associated with improved market production. However, obesity should not be considered as a public epidemic hence the need for policy makers to remain cautious whenever formulating policies to solve public matters. Therefore, it is not necessarily obesity is an indication of negativity of societal performance, but also an indicator that there is diet and exercise. The issue of context of holding choices emerges at such stages that losing or even unwillingness to lose weight should be a personal choice and not a matter to be brought under public concern.
Normative Aspects of Growth in Obesity
Obesity accounts for 37% of Americans. On the other hand, obesity-related illnesses account for 61% of all healthcare costs in America each year. This way, rates of obesity continue to increase and costs for its control continue to increase for federal healthcare initiatives. It has been claimed that a reduction in levels of obesity can save the government billions of money that can otherwise be used in other government programs. Medicaid and Medicare are the most affected by the increasing levels of obesity in the United States. It has also been indicated that in case levels of obesity continue to increase in the United States, all medical costs linked to it will lead to increase in payroll and income taxes that are payable to social security benefits. Most importantly, critics have indicated that obese people tend to suffer a reduction in their productivity altogether with causing increased costs on healthcare and economic losses of the companies.
Economists have also indicated that obesity has affected the nation’s economy in various ways due to absenteeism of obese people from their workplaces. However, obesity has been associated with some positive effects in the American economy. There have been new products such as extended seat belts making obesity a good thing to the nation’s market. Nevertheless, these positive effects are being overshadowed by negative effects. The negative effects of obesity do not justify obesity to be a public matter rather than a personal issue. Obesity can be described as a state entered by an individual into their accord. Referring to obesity as an epidemic would be robbing obese people of their autonomy as well as their sense of worthiness, responsibility altogether with freedom.
It has emerged clear that misunderstandings in obesity issues and perceiving it as an epidemic leaves the issue open for institutional and governmental legislation that introduce discriminatory measures to cure it. Such efforts along with actions can lead to unintended results that can bring outward effects on obese individuals altogether with the non-obese persons. Therefore, the problem of solving obesity issues should be left to the individual persons to decide and should not be addressed through institutional and governmental policies as an epidemic. Obesity does not affect another person apart from the obese person hence addressing it through unfavorable government initiatives introduces oppression and discrimination to the obese people. In other words, expanding Medicaid along with mandating health insurance covers does nothing, but expands cost of healthcare. It is the time that people take responsibility of their health status and address the issue of obesity at personal levels.
Bias, Discrimination and Obesity
Obese individuals have continually experienced discrimination due to biases introduced by institutional and governmental policy makers that make it an epidemic in front of the public eyes. Discrimination has been highly noted in various parts of the society such as social sectors including education, housing, employment and healthcare. In this case, the legislature failed to set laws that protect obese people suffering from oppression from public and private sectors. It is clearer that fat jokes accompanied by derogatory portrayals regarding the obese people are common in media stations. Obese people have also been receiving poor school grades, losing job opportunities and denied promotions. Many studies have indicated discrimination in employment opportunities of obese people and the results are associated with prejudice, inequality and insensitivity in workplaces.
Studies have also indicated that physicians have identified obesity with poor hygiene in health, dishonesty, hostility and noncompliance. Peer rejection can be an initial challenge for the obese people and research has showed that harsh treatments from peers in school settings have resulted to suicides. Obese people also experience difficulties in public and private places such as theaters, buses, restaurants and airplanes due to inadequate seat capacities. It is unfortunate that there is no federal law that addresses the issue of discrimination against obesity. However, only Michigan civil rights prohibit discrimination in workplaces against a person’s weight. There is sufficient evidence of discrimination cases suggesting that it can be powerful and can occur across vital areas of life. In this case, lack of laws to address biases and discrimination cases against obese people does not provide a chance for public intervention and addressing obesity as an epidemic. It seems that the federal and state governments are not focused on setting laws that address the matter of discrimination rather than perceiving obesity as an epidemic. Consequently, this leaves the burden to the individuals suffering from obesity to try and solve their individual states of obesity. People should be accountable for their obesity situations rather than give the government and other institutions to address the issue.
Public Policy Intervention and Obesity
Various policies have been introduced in order to address the obesity issue in the United States. Such policies include imposing taxes on fatty food stuff, fast food regulations, tobacco precedents and education provision to the people. Such initiatives continue to increase conflicting interests as well as opinions among citizens of the United States. Most of them hold that obesity matter has been lifted too high and perceived as an epidemic. They believe that obesity should be addressed from personal levels and that the government should not intervene on personal matters that do not influence other members of the community. However, there is little knowledge regarding effective policy approaches. Therefore, interventions at public levels need different approaches towards evaluation of obesity than those utilized by individual altogether with group levels.
Public policies emerging from state and federal levels have become among the primary processes towards changes in the environment. Personal intervention into obesity issues recommends consistent family procedures in prevention of obesity. Most authors indicate that obesity can be addressed by assessment of family’s history. This way, the family is prepared for changes by utilizing non-threatening along with non-judgmental ways. Recently, the fat taxes have raised public concerns and introduced conflicting interests among people in the United States. However, governmental and institutional policies do not solve the problem completely without individual intervention. Introducing taxes on fatty food stuff does not mean that people would stop eating fatty foods. Therefore, the government and institutions should combine efforts with individuals and groups suffering from obesity in order to address the issue that should start at personal levels instead of declaring the entire issue as an epidemic.
Public Health Model for Prevention of Obesity in the United States
Different ways exist in addressing obesity issues instead of involving biased alongside discriminatory policies. In this case, authoritative parenting can help in solving the issues instead of engaging in unfavorable policies such as fat taxes that will decrease personal incomes. Sedentary behaviors play as obstacles towards weight loss hence should be reduced in children and adolescents. Whenever a consideration is made towards prevention of obesity, the role of public health should be the creation of favorable environments encouraging individuals to make choices that positively influence their health. Strategies will help to support healthy choices on food consumed by people accompanied by exercises that help people to eat well and become active.
Obesity can be solved from a personal level rather than formulating unnecessary rules and regulations that introduce the issue as an epidemic. Individuals can convene collaborative groups that address the problem at their personal levels. Stigmatizing people through oppressive policies by the government and institutions remains counterproductive. In this case, evidence lacks that people are motivated to make healthier choices from these policies than before. These policies increase discrimination and stigmatization among obese people hence increasing their stress, unhealthy eating and decreased exercises. Therefore, promoting individual responsibility as well as protecting consumer choices is the best way to go. Blaming those in obesity situations will not work for the state and federal governments. It is the role of individuals to lead and address the public policies along with the multiple factors creating the obesogenic United States.
In conclusion, traditional values in the United States tend to perceive obesity as an individual issue. Therefore, obesity issue should not be controlled by both governmental and institutional policies that perceive it as an epidemic. It is clear that several policies and initiatives have been introduced in order to reduce obesity. Such policies have been mentioned including fat taxes that have brought in thoughts of furthering personal matters and making them major public concerns. Authoritative parenting can play a significant role in addressing the issue of unhealthy eating in the United States. Moreover, sedentary behaviors can be reduced, especially among the adolescents in order to initiate weight loss among the obese people. Therefore, obesity is not as it is perceived (epidemic) by the state and federal governments and institutions due to public health. It is a result of both exercise and health. Responsibility of solving the obesity matter should be at personal levels and not under policy makers making oppressive and discriminatory policies.
Kate Williamson, writer at marketing plan writing service and a bloger