Why Obesity Remains a Big Problem in America - Argumentative Essay Example

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Vanderbilt University
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Argumentative essay
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Obesity is a major health concern among children and adults in the United States. Over recent years, cases of obesity among children have increased significantly in spite of the various efforts that have been made to minimize the prevalence of the disorder (Apovian 177). Some of the prevention and control efforts emphasize personal responsibility on the part of the consumers, but little attention is being accorded to the factors that influence unhealthy consumer choices (Zinczenko). In other words, the problem has not been sufficiently addressed. For this reason, the significant rise in obesity among children cannot be blamed on their habits but on those who know about the dangers of fast-foods but fail to avail such information to them.

Addressing the socioeconomic problems can be an important tool of discouraging fast-food consumption choices. Zinczenko argues that sometimes children who consume a large of amount of fast-foods lack viable choices due to poverty. They are so poor that they cannot avoid meals that have fewer calories. More often, these children are forced by economic circumstances into consuming fast-foods because that is the only way they can afford a meal. Under such circumstances, the immediate problem that requires a solution is how to access a meal and not how to obtain a healthy meal. These consumption patterns have been compounded by the prohibitive costs associated with healthy foods. This has motivated fast-food companies to exploit the demand gap created by economic hardships of a segment of the citizenry for profits. The demand is also driven by the unavailability of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, as well as the inadequacy of the amount of money needed to purchase such food items vis-a-vis fast-foods.

The realization that healthy foods are unreachable to a majority of the population has sparked a craze among fast-food companies to manipulate consumption patterns of children. Zinczenko cites the ubiquity of fast-food companies as one of the reasons that attract young people to fast-food products. Fast-food giants such as McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken a common sight in streets of USs towns and cities. This makes fast-foods readily available not those who need them but to those who need to eat, and this is the only quickest option they have to quench their hunger.

Lacking options for food does not necessarily lead to consumption of large amounts of unhealthy foods. If these children had information on the unhealthiness of fast-foods, then patterns of consumption could be different even if fast-foods were readily available and affordable. Zinczenko points out that the lack of information among children aggravates the consumption problem in the sense that they do not know the healthiness of what they consume. For instance, there are no labels on fast-food products indicating the amount of calories as the case in grocery items. Even in instances where the fast-food firms have attempted to do so, the information provided is often scanty if not misleading. Marketing gimmicks advancing only the nutritious value of fast-foods have not helped children either .In any case, their primary concern is to generate profits. Worse still, there is no legislation compelling fast-food companies to make vivid labels on their products like in the case of tobacco products. Given these circumstances, children get the impression that what they are consuming is safe and healthy.

In spite of poverty, lax consumer protection laws, and ignorance of children concerning the dangers of fast-foods, it is critical to note that there are several options which can be pursued to protect populations from falling deeper into the obesity crisis. Put simply, leaving the management of obesity to the government and capitalists will not address the problem of obesity in the country. To this end, guardian/parental responsibility can play a pivotal part in educating children about the dangers associated with unregulated consumption of fast-foods. Children can be taught healthy eating habits from a tender age by through meals prepared by parents/guardians. Such an approach would enable children to learn to avoid calorie-rich foods. Also, exposure to active lifestyles would ensure what children consume away from their parents and guardians are free from unreasonable amounts of calories. Moreover, schools can be a good source of information for children. This strategy can be supported by regulating the type of foods sold in or around school premises.

Lack of information on the dangers of fast-foods among children is largely to blame for the increasing cases of obese children in the United States. Although poverty contributes to consumption of calorie-rich foods, availability of information on the risks of consuming unregulated amounts of such food products can promote responsible uptake of calories among children and teenagers. Despite the existence of consumer protection laws, fast-food companies often exploit legal loopholes to lure children into buying their products. Evidently, guidance from parents/guardians can provide children valuable information about diet and healthy eating habits. This way, children would be equipped with the right information about fast-foods thereby engendering individual responsibility in what they consume on a daily basis.

Works Cited

Apovian, Caroline M. "The Obesity Epidemic Understanding the Disease and the Treatment." New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 374, no. 2, 2016, pp. 177-179.

Zinczenko, David. "Don't Blame the Eater." The New York Times, [New York], 2002.

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