The Weighty Truth of Obesity

Americans have always been fat. It is a part of our society, our culture, it runs in the blood of our clogged arteries to the smell of our hot-dog like sweat. We’re all familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s hanging gut, to William Howard Taft being pried from tub, and in more modern years we’re stuck with shows like “My 600 Pound Life,” “My Big Fat Fabulous Life,” and, of course, my personal favorite: “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” Now, we could sit here and say that the fast food industry is to blame, but y’know, I’ve never been one to blame a producer over their consumer and obesity is by no means a simple thing to tackle. But I’m going to try, so fuck it.

There are a multitude of causes of obesity as I’m sure anyone could tell you; I’d be an idiot if I said food environment didn’t contribute to America’s current status of obesity. Yeah, if there’s a $1.99 for chicken nuggets and I make only $18,000 a year, why would I not take that deal? This is cheap for me, cheap for the producer, and honestly, it’s a win-win in a sort of way. I’m consciously making this decision to eat this questionable food, this food produced so cheaply that it doesn’t even seem sensible. But, hey, I’m poor. This is what is convenient for me. This is what is convenient for most of the people in my community, hell, it’s Philly, we’re all fucking poor here. The socioeconomic trends will always reflect the health trends, poor people eat poor food, they drive poor cars, they wear poor clothes. That’s like me going to a slum and adding up the total of clothes they have and being surprised that it doesn’t amount to as much as a similarly populated community in Orange County. Is that not obvious? This affects America as a whole because America has a poverty line cutting across race, religion, creed, and any other generalizing standard we use to address problems.

Now, what else does poor socioeconomic status say? First, it states that not only cheaper(less healthy) options are chosen, but it could say that the knowledge of health choices could be less. Health isn’t emphasized anywhere near as much in low-income communities as much as the middle or upper class. Nutrition facts used to be “that white box on your food that says a bunch of irrelevant crap.”

In more recent years we’ve had this great health push sweeping across America and I don’t feel that we need anymore government involvement in our lives. That just seems overly liberal, why must the government have to regulate everything a person chooses to ingest? People are obese, yes, but this is a cultural problem that should be handled by the denizens of our culture. You start throwing taxes on “unhealthy food,” who knows what else they could throw taxes on? Also, what dictates “healthy food?” All things can be healthy or unhealthy depending on the dosage, it’s just a significant power shift for no apparent reason. The government loves to take advantage of the minority’s bad habits because they know no one is going to defend them. The government isn’t my mother and I’m not a 3 year-old. The only thing we should regulate are things that can possibly harm others through usage, McDonald’s isn’t fucking paralyzing and killing people like moonshine. I’m sorry, but if the government has to regulate your health, you don’t deserve your health.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Obesity is a problem and heart disease kills. The more the health movement is pushed, the more society and producers will have to reflect this. Tons of fast food places have had to change their menus already to keep up with the changing market, they don’t control the market—we do. We have to shove this movement in the mouth of the upper class, let it slide down the gullet of the middle class, and digest in the stomach of the lower class; this is something that will happen little by little, piece by piece with awareness and honesty. It’s not that different from the stop smoking movement, and hey, smoking has been significantly cut back in the past couple years. This is something that can be done without government regulation, people will reflect proper health trends if they have the income and knowledge to do so. And if they don’t, who the hell cares? Why are we concerning ourselves with other’s life choices, the old English proverb goes “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” The health movement is going to move on with or without them.

Obviously, this isn’t applicable to everyone. Some people have conditions, weak metabolisms, genetics and all types of inconvenient reasons that are making it hard to lose weight and becoming more prominent. We’re constantly surrounded by all these medications that bloat us, technology that claims we can be couch potatoes and get a six-pack, these wizards claiming that we can take a single pill and be He-Man. The truth is, there are no magical lose fat cures and we shouldn’t put laws or special taxes in place on anything that isn’t directly disrupting our society. We just have to take a deep collective breath as a society and acknowledge that a slow, delicious, cheesy-filled, deep-fried death is still a death.

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3 thoughts on “The Weighty Truth of Obesity

  1. You make a lot of good points in your post. I agree with you completely on the “no taxing unhealthy foods”. In our society it does not matter if things are a higher price. People will still buy it if they like it or are addicted to it. But I disagree on the point about people choosing the unhealthy options because they cannot afford healthier choices. A person can go to McDonald’s but who’s making them get that Big Mac? They can choose a salad or fruit that is cheap as well. Also, for the amount that a person spends on one meal at McDonald’s, it is very possible to go to the store and purchase healthier options that will last more than one meal.

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  2. In the cases that you talked about, how money is always a problem, I can see why people turn to the cheap way of eating. However that is not always the case. Everyone is brought up with different views on life, and one that I highly value is the physical aspect. I would rather had the other parts of my life suffer, then live semi comfortably, and be obese. I know what it is like to be overweight, and I am not going back. Like you said in the second to last paragraph, “you can lead a horse into water, but you can’t make it drink,” people are going to do as they please. They are going to eat whatever they want, and they will be what they eat. But if someone wants to eat healthy, they are going to, no matter what it costs them. One last thing to completely throw off my argument is that you can eat fast food and lose weight, you just need to watch your calorie intake. The portion sizes versus calories that fast food have is way unproportioned. So you would have to be careful of that.

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  3. I completely agree with you. We cannot blame obesity on people who buy fast food, because often times, fast food is what is affordable and easily accessed, and organic or healthy foods are too expensive. We should, instead, focus blame, on the companies responsible for making organically grown food so outrageously expensive. There is no real reason why people should have to pay out the nose for vegetables which have been genetically modified to produce more crops. The fact of the matter is, though, that the large corporations who create these new strains, create them so that they are seedless, or place genetic patents on them so that farmers have to continuously renew their rights to grow them or buy new seeds every season. This makes the plants more expensive to grow, and therefore, more expensive to buy. If we would look at the problem at its source, then we could stop blaming consumers for the faults of a market they can’t control.

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