Monday, February 14, 2011

Do you think regulating the fast food industry, eliminating take out, delivery and drive througs as well as making people work out more will reduce obesity?

There is definitely a correlation between obesity and the sedentary lives that so many of Americans lead. Do we act in the extreme and start shutting down escalators and eliminate food delivery and drive thrus? In Spain Burger King was forced to take one of their newer burgers off the menu because the fat content ran counter to their national anti-obesity campaign. Being a libertarian minded individual (generally) this appalled me. But, now I am not so sure.

Perhaps the fast food industry should be regulated better. There is an emerging body of evidence that suggests that the right combination of sugar, fat and sodium can be neurologically addictive. As an industry they spend millions of dollars in advertising targeting children and those living in poverty. When I was homeless I could eat several meals for $5.00 off of any of the local franchised fast food restaurant’s value menus.

It wasn’t about choice. If I could have eaten healthier at that time I would have. When you’re hungry and you sometimes skip a meal or two you will do what you have to in order to eat. Sometimes I made it to the local Salvation Army or Union Gospel Mission community kitchens for a meal. While better than McDonalds or Wendy’s it still wasn’t all that healthy. So called home cooked mills filled with fats and starchy foods which aren’t really good for us in abundance.

The first thing we need to do in combating obesity is stop mistaking our disgust as moral certainty. People are obese for a lot of different reasons. They don’t need our derision; they need our compassion. Health education and nutrition need to be a part of every school aged child and teenagers curriculum. In fact they should be part of a decent physical education program. Human beings didn’t evolve to sit around. Our bodies and our metabolisms are designed to be in motion (baring disability and health issues).

We need to create health and anti obesity campaigns and use the fast food industry, tobacco companies, beer and spirits and frankly, any manufacturer of “junk food” to fund these efforts. To allow people to manufacture products that can be dangerous to your health and then target specific demographics according to their vulnerabilities is unconscionable.

Sure, everyone has to take responsibility for the choices they make regarding their health and nutrition. But, they have to have the information. They have to be able to afford it as well. If we want those living in poverty to eat healthier foods then we need to put them within their reach. If you can’t afford to buy better food it does little good to talk about doing it. As it stands food prices are skyrocketing and are set to take another leap according to a recent news report I heard.

Not everyone who takes an escalator or orders pizza delivery is simply lazy. If it was that simple we could whip people into shape a lot easier. There is a psychology and spirituality to eating and exercising as well and we need to approach health from a more holistic standpoint. There is no one size fits all answer that will meet everyone’s health needs.

We also have to realize that we can’t force people to take care of themselves just because we find obesity disgusting. That’s what it gets down to for many people – disgust. It’s not about compassion over someone’s well being or concern over the rising costs to our national health and health care system caring for the obese. It’s about being disgusted with fat people and not wanting to be offended by the sight of them.

For a kiss I will answer all your questions.

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