Obesity: Who Is at Fault?

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Obesity: Who is at Fault?
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University of International Business and Economics

Obesity: Who is at Fault?
It is no secret that an increasing amount of Americans are gaining weight and much of this blame is put on fast food establishments such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Krystal’s, to name a few. According to Warren Belasco and Philip Scranton (2002), “The increasing consumption of convenience foods is an international trend influenced by changing lifestyles” (p. 3) From a superficial perspective, this doesn’t seem like much of a problem. However, Robert Jeffery and Simone French (1998), authors of the article Epidemic Obesity in the United States: Are Fast Food and Television Viewing Contributing? assert that “Obesity is an important public health problem that, in recent years, has reached epidemic proportions” (p. 277). In fact, some are calling the problem the “obesity epidemic.” Several lawsuits against fast food establishments have been filed by those who are overweight. It’s a serious problem, one that cannot be ignored. Before anyone assumes that it’s just the United States, think again. With the increasing number of fast food establishments in countries other than the United States, such as China, Japan, and Brazil, so are obesity rates.

The obesity epidemic can no longer be ignored and must be solved. While the problem is known, the source of it is not and must be traced. What exactly is the source of obesity? Many people believe it to be fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Krystals, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Taco Bell. After all, are they not the ones distributing the food so unhealthy and high in calories? Are they not the ones advertising delicious, backstabbing food? Are they not the ones making the food so addictive that the consumers have no choice but to eat it and come back for more?

It is not a secret that there have been countless lawsuits against fast food establishments. One of the most popular lawsuits, Pelman v. McDonald’s, has been nicknamed the “McLawsuit.” In this lawsuit, two overweight children (one of whom was nineteen years old) sued McDonald’s seeking compensation for their health related problems cause by obesity. There is no debate that most people understand that fast food is unhealthy, regardless of what the Pelman v. McDonald’s lawsuit claims. There have been documentaries recording, such as Morgan Spurlocks’ Supersize Me, in which he eats McDonald’s for three meals for a month. The result is irrevocable and much more severe than any of the three doctors he had hired imagined. It would be hard to find someone that denied that fast food was unhealthy. However, this does not mean that it is the reason for obesity. Fast food establishments should not be blamed for the obesity epidemic because when it all comes down to it, it’s a simple matter of choice. Fast food establishments do not hold their consumers at gunpoint and force them to buy their food, nor do they additives in their products to make it chemically addictive, despite what the plaintiffs lawsuit claim.

Todd G. Buchholz, an international economist, keynote speaker, and author of “Are Fast-Food Establishments Making Americans Fat” poses an interested scenario: The overweight baseball fan jumps to his feet in the bleachers of Wringley Field, screaming for the Chicago Cubs to hold onto their 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. He squeezes a Cubs pennant on his left hand while shoving a mustard-smeared hot dog into his mouth with the right. The Dodgers have a runner on the first who is sneaking a big lead off the base. The Cubs’ pitcher has thrown three balls and two strikes to the batter, a notorious power hitter. The obese fan holds his breath, while the pitcher winds up and fires a blazing fastball. ‘Crack!’ The ball flies over the fan’s head into the bleachers for a game-winning home run. The fan slumps to his bleacher seat and has a heart attack. Who should the fan...
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