Caloric Imbalance and Public Health Policy
by Bigguy.martel on April 1, 2014 - 1:47am
Guillaume Martel 01/04/14
English for science
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?