Essay: What Is the Best Way to Address Obesity in the U.S

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¶ … obesity in the U.S.

Opposing Viewpoints: Solutions to Obesity in the United States

Obesity in America

In dealing with ending Obesity in America, some argue that the focus should be on culture and education, while others suggest that legislation is the answer.

The issues of civil liberties, economics, and emotional and psychological problems compound the question of how to end obesity in America.

Discussion and Critical Evaluation of the Evidence

Two Positions: Those who favor culture and education honor American's values while attempting to change the culture of obesity through methods that will last for generations. Those who favor legislation argue that Americans will not change if not forced and that this is a health crisis.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Evidence: The argument for culture is strong because it focuses on the long-term and honors the American tradition, but weak because it might not yield immediate results. The argument for legislation is strong because it will yield immediate results, but weak because those results may be too forceful to be lasting.

c. Biases: underlying these problems is the bias that being obese is being unhealthy and that the government and other groups have an interest in this cause.

d. Evaluation of Evidence: Each position appeals to a unique set of individuals. Both have equal strengths and weaknesses. Determining the best solution must be based on which solution does the most amount of good for the most people.

3. Conclusion Including Solutions and Limitations:

a. Two potential solutions to the problem: One solution involves congress passing the current legislation raising taxes on junk foods and cigarettes and passing more severe legislation to make such foods and actions illegal or even more costly. Another solution involves staging school convocations and demonstrations at libraries and other places of adult education.

b. Limitations: The first solution is limited by the constitution and Supreme Court, as well as the public, who may not elect officials who propose these solutions. Morality also limits this solution, as it potentially limits a person's free will. The second solution is limited by the fact that it might not have an immediate impact, leaving many obese Americans and the children that they are caring for susceptible to the problems of obesity.

c. Recommendation: After weighing the evidence and the positive and negative implications of the two solutions, it is clear that the best solution to the problem is changing culture and education in order to gain long-term solutions.

I. Introduction

From the number of people who have been hospitalized due to diabetes, heart problems, and other conditions associated with weight to the diet and exercise programs that are continually developed to help different members of the population control their weight, it is clear that obesity is a problem in the United States. According to the Centers of Disease Control (2009), the past 20 years has seen a "dramatic increase" in U.S. obesity, with only one state in 2008 to have a prevalence of obesity at less than 20% (para. 2). Thus, it is clear that something must soon be done to combat this pervasive problem in the United States. The question is: what? Some answer this question by arguing that the focus should be on culture and education in the United States, while others suggest that the government should intervene in the form of legislation to keep the American public safe from what is often referred to as a health crisis.

While both of these issues have a variety of strengths and weaknesses, there is no easy way to choose an answer among them, due to a number of uncertainties, ambiguities, and controversies surround the problem. One of those uncertainties has to do with the associations between weight and aesthetics in the United States, as many prefer to loose weight simply for the cosmetic benefits, even to the point where weight loss because unhealthy for them. Furthermore, the connection between beauty and obesity has made the issue a deeply personal one with inherent psychological components that make approaching the issue in an obese person difficult. For instance, Frankenfield (2000), writing for WebMD Health News, states, "Obese boys and girls have significantly lower self-esteem than their nonobese peers" (para. 1). This lack of self-esteem cold lead to "risky" behavior in this group, according to Frankenfiled (2000). Other issues and controversies include the potential political ramifications of legislation being the chosen solution, including a lack of civil liberties and dangerous precedent, economic concerns for junk food and cigarette companies, and the debate regarding whether long-term or short-term results are more important. By examining both sides of the issue, one can determine which solution would be best.

II. Discussion and Critical Evaluation of the Evidence

The two primary solutions to ending obesity in America each appeal to a select group and have each been offered for a variety of valid reasons. The first solution is presented by those who favor changing America's culture using education in order to make Americans aware of the problems associated with obesity, what causes obesity, and that obesity is a disease; obese people need to be helped, not ridiculed. On the opposing side, those who favor legislation suggest that when given an option, most will choose to continue engaging in behaviors that make them obese even if they know the outcome. Citing obesity as a national health crisis, they call for legislation, a "fat tax,' that would raise the taxes on junk food items such as potato chips, French fries, and candy bars (Satchell, 2009). Because junk food adversely impacts the pocket book, Americans could be encouraged to eat healthy.

Both of these solutions have strengths and weaknesses that could respectively aid or debunk the attempt to curb obesity in the United States. By focusing on changing America's culture through education, educators would have the chance to impact whole generations, possibly eradicating the problem in the long-term through offering health education courses at schools in addition to through libraries and other centers for adult education. According to Stehr (2006), an association between education and obesity already exists, with those who have higher levels of education having lower levels of obesity and obese children. Furthermore, in the United Kingdom, "schools are seen as being in the front line against what has been called 'the biggest public health threat of the 21st century' -- obesity," and programs that encourage activity ("Schools Urged," 2004, para. 1). However, weaknesses to this plan include the fact that it could take a great deal of time to implement, at which point damage could have already been done to Americans who were uneducated about obesity and its affects. Furthermore, it is possible that obese people and children could be further ridiculed during the education process.

The alternative solution -- legislation -- is strong in the fact that it is a fast-acting solution at least for the short-term. If unhealthy foods are more expensive, some families will be unable to afford them and switch to healthier foods, while others will simply prefer to make the switch to save money. This means adults and children will start eating healthier -- not after undergoing a program -- but today. Evidence for the success of the program comes from a similar unhealthy habit. According to the World Health Organization, "in the U.S. And around the world, a tax is the single most effective way to stop smoking" (Satchell, 2009, para. 7). However, weaknesses associated with this solution include the fact that it could be considered morally or constitutionally wrong in that it inhibits people from the freedom of making their own choices -- whether they be good or bad. In addition, while legislation may target healthy eating, it does not necessarily target physical activity -- the other component needed to combat obesity. Of course, a discussion of both of these solutions reveals underlying biases, including the fact that obesity is, indeed, a problem in the United States and that the government and other groups actually have a desire to combat this problem. From the evidence noted by the Centers of Disease Control and legislators advocating various solutions to the problem, it can be argued that these biases are correct.

In weighing the evidence of both of these solutions, then, it is easy to see how the strengths and weaknesses of both are relatively equal. Both solutions appeal to two very different sections of the population -- those who put health above civil liberties and prefer a short-term solution, and those who think health and civil liberties can be achieved together and would prefer to see more people helped in the long-term. In order to decide which solution is the best, then, it is necessary to determine which will benefit the greatest amount of U.S. citizens and those living in the U.S.

III. Conclusion: Solutions and Limitations

In order to solve the problem of obesity in the United States, action must be taken today. This action can take the form either of legislation taxing junk food or even… [END OF PREVIEW]

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