According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention over 610,000 Americans die each year due to heart disease. Although many factors can lead to a heart disease death the most common is obesity due to a poor diet. Is this massive number of preventable deaths each year the fault of lack of public knowledge that fast food isn’t the wisest choice to make if you want to stay healthy or is it the soul responsibility of the individual.
The idea that obesity should become an even more public concern is ridiculous, the responsibility to decide what goes into your body or what lifestyle you choose to live is one hundred percent the individuals responsibility. A major issue that would occur from making the obesity problem an even more public concern would be the fact that people who know how to eat correctly and do some form of exercise to stay healthy would be forced to pay for the ones that are just trying to save a buck by eating at a fast food restaurant. Forcing the government to step in and try to control this ever-increasing obesity rate would only increase the taxes for those obese and those not creating an even greater finical strain on the obese.
A relatively healthy person is already forced to pay more for health insurance because of the undisciplined so why should they be forced to pay additional taxes? Sure if a privately owned company or non-profit organization were to find ways to help fight the obesity epidemic all power to them but any form of government involvement would have to lead to higher taxes. The city of Chicago tried to create a tax on added sugar in beverages to make up for 200 million dollars in government spending as well as to try and help fight child hood obesity but ended up being of the shortest-lived tax in state history. Taxes like this one don’t only hurt individuals but they can also hurt businesses. Higher regulations and taxes force companies to increase prices of goods, cut employees benefits and even perform layoffs to make up for lost profit.
Even if the state or federal level governments could find a way to shift around money in the budget to avoid higher taxes this would still mean taking away from other programs in order to combat a problem that boils down to personal accountability. Creating limitations on what consumers are able to purchase might not solve anything but forcing one to take responsibility for their actions might. While a normally healthy individual might not have to go to the doctor or hospital very often they still pay the price for the obese that may have to frequent these places. Obesity leads to an array of ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some cancers. All of these requiring a frequent hospital visits and prescribed medications driving up the cost of health insurance premiums for everyone.
According to the New York Times, Health Affairs estimated its estimated its annual cost to be $147 billion and growing. Translating to $1,250 per household, mostly in taxes and insurance premiums. Maybe if the obese were solely made to pay that huge tab they would be more inclined to get healthy, but they are not. While it may be harsh to make them take up that huge tab is it definitely is fair.
Radley Balko writes “Instead of manipulating or intervening in the array of food options available to American consumers, our government out to be working to foster a sense of responsibility in the ownership of our own health and well-being. But we’re doing just the opposite” (466). According to Balko the more we move towards a socialist health care system the less room there is to put the responsibility on the guilty party. Not one part of this problem would be solved by making obesity a more public concern.
“It’s difficult to think of anything more private and of less public concern then what we choose to put into our bodies” Balko 468. Making the obesity problem in the United States a more public concern would most likely lead to restrictions on what manufactures and even restaurants are allowed to sell consumers. This again persecutes those that are able to enjoy these treats without over indulging.
Even with a well-regulated source of food obesity wouldn’t vanish. Obesity has many causes including lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle and genetics. People with a strong preference towards a product are still going to purchase it, they will just travel to where the cost is cheaper much like they do with tobacco products. When Chicago’s “Soda Tax” took effect fans of sugary drinks would drive to Indiana in order to avoid the tax. Although I am against making the obesity problem a public concern I am in favor of bringing back public-school programs such as home economic classes. With the cost of living so high this day and age children are often left to fend for themselves and without adequate education they are most likely doomed to make unhealthy decisions because they are fast and easy.
If kids today knew how to cook more then just ramen and mac n’ cheese we might have less staggering numbers when it comes to childhood obesity. Not only would educating the youth about nutrition help with them making healthier decisions but they could pass that information onto their guardians if they didn’t receive it themselves. When it comes down to it education is the number one factor that is going to come close to making a dent in this problem we are facing. Individuals need to take responsibility for their actions and know that if they decide to eat unhealthy and refuse to exercise that they will inevitable gain weight.
Continuing to force those that are living healthy lifestyles by covering a large portion of healthcare costs, taxing beverages and increasing taxes to provide programs for the irresponsible is by no means a successful solution to the obesity epidemic we face ourselves with today. Obesity will never not be a thing, but with education, not taxation, we can hope to make it as low as possible.