Government Intervention vs. Obesity Problem
As a result of the recent public debates centered around our nation’s rising obesity problem, Michael Marlow, a professor at California Polytechnic State University, did his research when it came to what does and does not work when the government tries to intervene in the lives of Americans and their eating habits. He goes into great detail in 2012 with his article, “Government Intervention Will Not Solve Our Obesity Problem”, about the actions the government is currently taking and the results they are getting. His article is very persuasive because he uses facts and research to support his findings.
Michael starts off by stating that it is not a question whether or not the nation’s obesity rate is rising. “According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the prevalence of obesity among adults more than doubled from 13.4 percent in 1960 to 34.3 percent in 2008. A new report released this month by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine predicts that by 2030, 42 percent of Americans will be obese and 11 percent will be severely obese, or 100 pounds overweight” (Marlow 1). This logical appeal is very persuasive in showing that there is a major problem with obesity in America. These numbers are staggering. The percentages he uses here are very important because he’s showing that these numbers are continuously rising and there is no relief in the near future. The information he presents is excellent in proving that if we continue at the same rate, with nothing changing, then the majority of the country will be overweight, people will be dying at much younger ages, and the heart problems that Americans already face will become a much bigger epidemic. The source that he uses here, the “American Journal of Preventive Medicine,” is also very trustworthy and reliable (Marlow).
The government has recently started passing laws and regulations to force people to think about what they are eating. “One popular government solution requires restaurant chains to post calorie counts on their menus to prevent citizens from underestimating their caloric intakes” (Marlow 1). Michael uses logical appeal here to demonstrate the actions the government is taking to try and control the choices that people are making when ordering out. “While 28 percent of patrons said the information influenced their choices, researchers could not detect a change in calories purchased after the law” (Marlow 1). This is a persuasive statement because it’s showing that the majority of people who saw these calories posted at restaurants, did not change anything pertaining to how they ordered. This is showing to be a completely pointless move by the government.
The next government regulation he refers to is the taxing of sugary drinks. “Interestingly, soda taxes mostly cause people without weight problems to cut back their consumption, even though they are not the intended targets of the policy. Meanwhile, frequent soda drinkers buy lower-priced soda, engage in bulk discounted purchases, and brew more sweetened ice tea” (Marlow 1). This idea is very persuasive because he again uses logical appeal to prove his point. He uses the word “bulk” very interestingly here to show that people are only buying more of these products at one time and also showing that they are only bulking up their own weight (1). So this seems to only be working the complete opposite of what it was intended to do.
“In one case, Congress effectively declared pizza a vegetable under the intense pressure from agricultural business lobby. This allowed Congress to block attempts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to replace pizza, which is classified as a vegetable because it contains tomato paste, with more vegetables” (Marlow). Michael is using logical appeal to show that the approach the government is taking is actually a shortcut. The USDA is trying to add more vegetables and make pizza healthier but the government, being under pressure from other agencies, takes an easier route by declaring the whole pizza a vegetable. This is very persuasive because this is a completely ridiculous move by the government. It is common sense that there is nothing healthy about pizza, so the side the government is taking in this matter does not have the interest of American people in mind.
He switches his argument from the laws the government has put in place being ineffective to the actual consequences that it has on Americans. “Since the 1970s, Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines have urged Americans to eat low fat diets to reduce their risk of coronary heart disease and obesity. But because they were eating healthier foods, they ate more. Thus, while the share of calories coming from fat decreased between 1970 and 2000, the actual amount of fat calories in their diet increased, because of an increase in overall calories” (Marlow 1). He uses logical appeal here to make a great point. The USDA has been in place for approximately 40 years. In that amount of time, with all the regulations they have put in place for Americans to follow, they have not managed to find a way to decrease the obesity numbers. The most persuasive part of his article came when he states solutions that actually work, which are not government regulations, but are individuals and local markets. “Unlike government policies, weight loss products and ideas are tested by consumers and failures are replaced by products that really help people control their weight” (Marlow 1). Here he is referring to such things as weight lifting equipment, diet pills, weight loss drinks and shakes, and weight loss programs like Weight Watchers. These things are tested by individuals and if they are proven to work, then spokespeople inform the public of the effectiveness of these products and in turn, people continue to use them. He’s showing that only these methods seem to show the most results.
Michael’s argument was very persuasive. He states government laws and regulations that have been put in place to try and persuade people to either order foods that contain less calories, showing there was no change in the way people ordered. He uses a regulation that tries to prevent people from buying surgery drinks, showing that people only ended up buying and consuming more of them. He states that the government was declaring the whole pizza a vegetable because it contained tomato paste, showing that this did absolutely no good in getting people to eat more vegetables. He then states a regulation that is trying to get people to consume foods with less fat, which in turn made people consume more of the foods. He did an excellent job in proving the point that these laws and regulations the government has put in place is not only not working but they are actually producing the opposite results of what they are trying to achieve. He then wraps it up by showing that the only way to get proven results in trying to attack the obesity problem is by using “weight loss products and ideas tested by consumers” (Marlow 1).
Marlow, Michael. “Government Intervention Will Not Solve Our Obesity Problem.” U.S News. June 5, 2012. 1. Web. Feb. 15, 2013.