Obesity: Is it a choice?
The topic of obesity within the United States, let alone the world, has been a dispute for years. In the United States it has been debated in many levels from controlling what foods restaurants can serve to initiatives within the government driven by presidents, presidential candidates, and even first ladies. There is an overwhelming statement that something needs to be done, but the problem is not what, but how. Many debate that obesity is not an effect of choice but due of genetic make-up. Other’s say that many people do not even get to have a choice and are ultimately doomed to having nothing to eat but processed fatty foods and being overweight. The essays, Can’t Blame the Eater, by David Zinczenko, and Kentucky Town of Manchester Illustrates National Obesity Crisis, by Wil Haygood, both illustrate how people, from adolescent to middle-aged adult, have no option but to eat unhealthily due to the overbearing presence of fast-food restaurants. Instead of blaming the individuals for making unhealthy choices in their diet, they blame the businesses that only provide the food.
The rates of obesity in the United States have caused concern for many people and many organizations. First Lady Michelle Obama founded an organization that specifically targets obesity rates in children by promoting activities to keep them physically active (cite letsmove.org). The New York Times wrote an article about studies by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that over the past decade obesity rates among children 2- to 5- years old have dropped 43% (cite New York Times). Although this has been claimed as a huge success in targeting obesity at a young age, other studies show that obesity is still rising. Many studies have been done to see changing rates of childhood obesity to adult obesity. An article put out by the CDC states that “childhood obesity has gone from 7% in 1980 to 18% in 2010” (cite CDC article). Those rates are a huge jump, it does not seem that our American children are getting any healthier. Comparatively, adult obesity rates over the same period of time have risen 23% (cite Ogden and Carroll study). Americans have not done much in last 30 years to change their eating habits or exercise routines according to these studies. At the end of these studies the question still lingers as to why American people are still overweight or obese.
With obesity on the rise in America, many people say that fast food eating habits have a lot to do with income. One would think that the more money made would mean that more people are spending that money on fast-food, but data from a survey done between 1994-1996, “Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals and the accompanying Diet and Health Knowledge Survey,” states the opposite. With about 5,000 participants, the survey states that when people began to make more money, moving from lower class to middle, they were more likely to eat fast food restaurants than upper class. With a household income of $60,000 and higher visits to fast-food restaurants decreased (DaeHwan and Leigh 312). People with more money were more likely to go to sit-down restaurants, than lower to middle class. In contrast, an article in The Wall Street Journal by Ben Lousdorf (cite Wall Street Journal article) states that surveys done by the U.S. Labor Department show that the Earned Income Tax Credit (ETIC), introduced in 1970 to give low-income families more money to spend on food instead of receiving food stamps, was actually being used by families to buy healthier options than on fast food. This goes to show that, given the option, lower income families are more willing to buy foods from stores than run to the nearest McDonald’s or Arby’s.
Fast-food is everywhere you look or drive in most cities and towns. While entering most cities from the highway, the first thing you...
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