Caloric Imbalance and Public Health Policy

by Bigguy.martel on April 1, 2014 - 1:47am

Guillaume Martel                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        01/04/14

English for science

Blog Assignment

In their text Caloric Imbalance and Public Health Policy, Jeffrey Koplan and William Dietz argue that the American society has a severe obesity problem which presents a dire threat to their health and well-being. In fact, more than 50% of U.S. adults are considered overweight according to the BMI (Body mass index). Amongst those, 3% have an excess of more than a hundred pounds. However, being obese does not only affect your looks as 80% of fat people have diabetes, high blood cholesterol levels or other diseases related to blood circulation or pressure. Based what is shown by a study from Allison and colleagues, only smoking exceeds obesity in mortality rates. A popular habit is to blame our condition on our genes, on the contrary, ”the gene pool in the United States did not change significantly between 1980 and 1994” so we cannot put the blame on that even if our society’s BMI is constantly going up. The only viable explanation is purely logical as, just like every other system, the human body will store energy as fat so that it can be used later. It seems that in the past few decades there has been an imbalance in this system. This problem is caused by the easy access to food with higher energy contents, the rapid expansion of the fast food industry and the omnipresence of marketing campaigns promoting this type of food. To make it worse, many opportunities for us to burn this energy are taken away from us as we have less space and less time to exercise. Also, technology, by making our lives easier, is making us less active. The best way to fight this problem is to prevent it. As such, public health systems should try to focus more on that to globally improve the health of the population. We should have a structured plan to make people understand the danger of being obese just like what the tobacco industry is doing. However, these two problems are different so new dissuasive solutions have to be found. Unlike smoking, no one can suddenly stop eating. Some people are already trying to make suggestions like Robinson saying that: “reduced television viewing by children slows rates of weight gain” (346). Another interesting direction is to promote fruits and vegetables and to make good use of the physical education course in school, although some communities lack the facilities to support this. Having an obese population is directly affecting its productivity so employers should have a part to play too in promoting good health. To make physical activities more convenient the design of the working environment should offer a more practical approach to sports. Every change possible should be made so that anyone could incorporate physical activities in their daily routines. But people themselves could take the initiative and replace some activities such as using the car with going on a bicycle. Men have, throughout history, had more role models to encourage them to be physically fit. Women should have an equivalent to profit from the same benefits. It is important to not rely on things such as excessive diets but instead stay active. All in all, obesity is now a health issue that is now viewed of equal importance with smoking.

Seeing as many places already have the required facilities to stay in good shape, shouldn’t we just let the choice to the population in regards to how regularly they exercise as long as they know the consequences? Is the government being too intrusive?


In response to your question, I believe the government should stay involved in this pursuit of our well-being, as today's society inevitably pushes us towards obesity, even if we are conscious of its existence and consequences. As stated in the text, there are countless contributing factors which we are constantly exposed to. For example, the easy access to high-caloric food, the exponentially expanding industry of fast food, the omnipresence of advertising, as well as the technological advancements which do not promote exercise and seem to make our lives easier by allowing us to "save time". On the contrary, lack of exercise solely favors obesity on the long run. Also, we as citizens are very much affected by advertisment as much as it is false advertisment or preventive advertisement. So, having the government intervene with rigor will only help us fight against the increasing number of obese humans. It may seem as though the government isn't respecting our freedom of choice, but the situation has come to people eating excessively without thinking twice. We should therefore set our ego aside and accept the help provided.

I believe that once people are properly educated about the consequences and risks of being unhealthy, it should be up to them. I do not believe the government should put more money in trying to help people who do not want to help themselves. If one wants to be healthy they should be able to do it on their own no matter their financial status. Exercise and eating well is the only way to stay healthy and if people do not do these things and ask for help and wonder why they are not healthy or slim, they are victim to their own ignorance. Therefore i do not believe tax money should be used on these people. If they do not have the willpower to maintain a good healthy diet and exercise that is their own fault. They know the consequences and risk of what they doing therefore it should not be any other individuals concern. It is their body and therefore it is their choice.

To answer our question, the government is somewhat responsible for the well-being of its population. The government is a represents the population, which pays the price of the obesity epidemic. The government should encourage population to exercise for medical, environmental and economical reasons to counter obesity. Being morbidly overweight makes unproductive and inactive population that does not take part in a society's development. Also, an external market of fast food is encouraged, in which the environment is heavily exploited to ensure a continuous production of genetically modified wheat and steroid filled meat to supply the internationally expanding market. The government should instead prevent obesity by making tax returns available to the population who exercises regularly to discourage a sedentary lifestyle, which is associated with weight gain.

I do not agree with what you are bringing forth. It is important that a country is preoccupied with the health of their population. Many people would not know the dangers of being overweight or obese if the government had not been concerned about the overall health of its citizens. It is only thanks to the government and many other organisations that we are so aware of the dangers of obesity and its related diseases.

According to me, the government will never be too intrusive since obesity is a problem of a great importance and should be taken as such. Some people need help in order to make the right decisions for them. Therefore, an intrusive government is a good thing as well as the fact that we keep talking about this issue. I believe that more people in the population will realize the importance of being healthy (not thin). I wrote (not thin) because some people confuse the word thin and the word healthy. Even though, obese people do need to lose weight in order to get healthy. To sum up, an involved government is the key to well-being amongst the population. If the government is involved in something, it must be important.

I think that the government should act the same way towards obesity as they do towards smoking. Let me explain, a considerable reduction of smokers was observe when a tax on cigarettes was brought to the country. So should we tax all food in order to force the population to have an healthy diet? I don't think so, a tax on fast-food, and any other unhealthy food is required. Furthermore, this will make the population think twice before adopting an unhealthy lifestyle and in the same time it will not affect people with an healthy life style. To bring forwards the exercise needed to achieve an healthy lifestyle, I would not change a thing. I think that you can't change the requirement of exercise needed. Therefore, in order to lose weight or attain any personal objective you need a very strong willpower. So, the problem of obesity do not reside in the society as a whole but instead in every individual who have this weight problem.

Yes, I agree that we now have more and more opportunity to stay in good shape. I also think that we should let citizens to decide whether they want to lose weight or not because they are responsible for their own body. However, the government has a duty to built a healthy population. If the government don't encourage the citizens to be healthy, more and more people will become over weight. As stated in the summary, there are too many foods that are high in calories and fast food restaurant are everywhere. Even if one wants to lose weight, it will be very difficult. They will need help from others. Furthermore, the future depend on us. If one doesn't want to change the way one eat and be healthy and active, future generation will most likely be like that as well. Thus, I do not think that the government is being intrusive.

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