Fast Food and Obesity

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Fast Food and Obesity:
Where is the line crossed between individual responsibility and placing blame?

Abstract

Context: In the United States, the increase in the rate of obesity has the potential to reverse the long-term efforts to increase the life expectancy of Americans. There are many factors that influence obesity including growing food portions, changing lifestyles, and the existence of food deserts throughout our country. There is a question whether obesity should be seen as individual responsibility or an effect of negative environmental forces. Methods: This article assesses various environmental, social, cultural, and behavioral factors that can be attributed to obesity. Also, it examines potential ways to tackle this epidemic and what American’s need to do in order to end this deathly wave that is spreading contagiously throughout our culture. Findings: (1) In the United States, the increase in food portions is directly related to the increase rate of obesity. The added calories and fat people are consuming lead to weight gain, obesity, and other heath conditions. (2) American’s new fast-paced lifestyle has shifted where meals are being eaten. This is negatively affecting the younger generation to whom our country is depending upon to continue to be productive members of society. (3) The medical model, for the causes of obesity, emphasizes the individual. It stresses that each individual has the opportunity to make responsible choices. (4) The public health model, for the causes of obesity, focuses on environmental factors. These factors lead the population to make unhealthy choices. Conclusion: Individuals are independent agents who are responsible for making healthy decisions and are expected to behave in a way that promotes their health. Individuals should only be held accountable for unhealthy decision-making when they have adequate resources to do so.

Over the last 50 years, the most prominent causes of death in the United States has dramatically shifted from infectious diseases developing from environmental causes such as unsanitary living conditions, to chronic diseases stemming from “lifestyle” causes such as smoking, diet, and exercise. Anti-smoking campaigns have made a huge step forward in educating people to its harmful effects. In effect, these efforts have increased many American’s life expectancy. However, the rise of the obesity epidemic may slow or even reverse this trend. Bad food kills you. Period. If we warn for the risks of tobacco, alcohol, and texting while driving, we should do the same about bad foods. Obesity is now the leading cause of death in the United States, and not enough people are being properly educated with this reality. In addition with the rise in obesity, over the last half century, American’s have drastically changed the way they live their lives. The people of the United States now live a fast-paced, busy lifestyle and this is affecting their food decisions. The ever-growing availability of high-fat and high-sugar foods, increased food portions, marketing and advertisements for fast food and lack of physical activity are only some of the core reasons for the rise in obesity throughout the United States. The question now becomes, who or what is responsible for this new epidemic spreading like wildfire throughout our culture? Where is the line crossed between individual responsibility and placing blame? Increased Portion Size

In the past 50 years in the United States, we have seen a dramatic increase in the rates of obesity and obesity related diseases. Many can contribute this rapid growth to the paralleled growth in food portions, especially seen in fast food chains, throughout our country. According to Young & Nestle, “Portion sizes offered by fast food chains are often two to five times larger than when first introduced.” The problem with the fast food growth in portion size is the food offered by most chains is extremely...
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