May 23, 2011
Obesity is defined as “a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems” (1). It is a huge problem in America and is an epidemic that is growing to enormous proportions. “Two out of every three adults are either overweight or obese. In addition, one out of every three children is either overweight or obese” (2). “It causes at least 300,000 needless deaths annually in the United States, and related healthcare costs top $100 billion” (3). This is an issue that not only affects our country, but extends worldwide, as well. So, the question at hand is what our responsibility is collectively as a nation, and particularly the government in turning this issue around for Americans?
The main ethical conflicts I will discuss are whether we should focus on the individual, helping those who are overweight or obese to lose weight thus focusing on education and prevention or whether there should be more drastic measures put in place, up to and including impinging on the rights of individuals for the good of society. In doing so, I will be utilizing the consequentialism and non-consequentialism ethical models.
The consequentialist ethical model would support the fact that “there is a need to produce an environment that supports healthy eating and physical activity throughout the community” (4). This could take many forms up to and including our stepping in and putting restrictions in place such as taxes on fast food or even more drastically, “For example, physicians’ groups in the United Kingdom have begun to endorse the concept of withholding scarce and dwindling national health system funds for maladies that arise from self-inflicted conditions such as excessive weight” (5). Other measures may include “limits to commercial advertising, a ban on chocolate...