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.