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Today, it is easy to notice in America that many people have a problem with their weight. It is not just in America but in the world, because obesity is a serious social issue. Obesity is widespread, and can cause many different health problems. It is also preventable. Thus, because it is a serious issue that can be stopped, everyone should learn about it so they can avoid being obese.
Overweight and obesity refer to the condition of having too much fat in one's body. How much fat is in one person's body is measured by the body mass index, or BMI. The BMI is "a simple index of weight-for-height" that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2)" (Zieve et al., 2010). Overweight and obesity can have many causes. The main reason people become overweight or obese is because they eat too much and exercise too little "the fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended" ("Obesity and overweight"). There are some other reasons. For example, having an underactive thyroid may lead to 5 - 10 pounds of weight gain. Also some people may gain weight from taking antidepressants and antipsychotic medicines. Obesity may also be genetic: children of obese parents are 10 times more likely to be obese than children with parents of normal weight. However, as stated already, the main cause of obesity is one's own actions.
Indeed, the prevalence of obesity in industrialized countries is reaching epidemic proportions. Obesity has many well-known health consequences including increased mortality and morbidity, increased risks of cardio vascular disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, stroke, cancer, osteoarthritis, and increased rates of physical inactivity, disability, and social isolation. In the US two of three adults are currently classified as obese, the rates of obesity are increasing rapidly, and for nearly two decades there has been a national call to assess and intervene on obesity.
Obesity, a crisis by any standard, cries out for creative solution. Moreover, obesity and overweight is not only serious for Americans. It is a world-wide problem. It is the fifth leading risk for global deaths. This is because so many people are obese or overweight in the world. There are 1.5 billion adults who are overweight, and 200 million men and 300 million women are obese. Also, there are 43 children who are overweight, even though they are under five-years-old (Zieve et al., 2010).
However, there are many ways for people to avoid obesity and overweight. It is very simple %u2015 the only method proven safe over the long-term is to burn more calories than you consume. However, this is also very hard, because many people want to just eat a lot and do not like to exercise. Or they do not have time to exercise. One method is to control one's diet. It is good to be moderate with a diet because "extreme diets (fewer than 1,000 calories per day) are not thought to be safe or to work very well. These types of diets often do not contain enough vitamins and minerals [and] people who are on these diets may experience symptoms such as fatigue, feeling cold most of the time, hair loss, or dizziness" (Zieve et al., 2010). So, when using diets, you should eat enough because even modest weight loss can improve your health. There are some medications and herbal remedies for weight loss but most of these do not work. However, medication is not a good way to lose weight because people usually regain the weight when they stop taking the medication, unless they have made lasting lifestyle changes. Some people decide to use surgery to lose weight. Two common surgeries are laparoscopic gastric banding or gastric bypass surgery. However, these surgeries are extreme measures and are not easy fixes for obesity and overweight.
But is it only personal weakness being a stout man? No. The law should be considered as a way to advance public health. Food is a necessity of life, and in modern society, most of the population is dependent on others to produce and distribute food. For companies to process and promote foods that are unhealthy owing to additives and ingredients that make the foods obesogenic is not so different from a company's pollution of the air or water, this is the traditional form of nuisance. Safe, nutritious food that is free from processed ingredients that cause ill health is as much of a public good as clean air and water (Walker, 2004). The courts thus might consider the conduct of industry that impairs the health of groups or populations as an actionable nuisance.
Again, food marketing has a negative impact, particularly the pervasive marketing of nutrient-poor, calorie-dense food. Because the First Amendment gives industry broad protection for marketing practices, considered "commercial speech," it is important for legislators and regulators to understand this body of law if they attempt to limit marketing. Since a portion of food and beverage advertising is directed at audiences primarily composed of children, it may be possible for the government to ban or otherwise regulate child-targeted advertising that reaches only this intended audience. In addition, government may entirely ban or otherwise regulate commercial speech that is false, deceptive, or misleading.
In fact, advertisements regarding fast food stimulate our appetite and they lead to people to eat fast food. They make the burgers on the advertisement really look like they are fresh and healthy food. Moreover, despite growing concerns about childhood obesity, many promotion target children, who are very vulnerable and susceptible to advertising? For instance, “the food industry in U.S. is estimated to spend $33 billion a year in direct advertising to promote junk food, and increasingly those dollars are targeted to children. Seventy percent of the dollars are for fast food, convenience foods, candy and snacks, alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and desserts, while fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans comprise only 2.2 percent” (Manheim, 2000).
Because the right to sell or purchase items is subject to minimal due process protection, the government can make, and has made, it illegal for minors to buy products that it deems harmful. Why couldn't this also apply to products that science has shown to be especially obesogenic to children? Just as school districts decide what is healthy and allowable under their wellness policies, governments can define what products are not fit for consumption by children and restrict their sales. The argument for such a regulation would be even stronger for products or additives found to be harmful or even addictive in certain quantities.
Though, opponents of this position might argue that obesity is the result of individual choices based on liberty and there are many people who eat fast food, but aren't obese. It might be true. However, there are contradictions between consumer culture that demands people consume more fast food and criticism of being fat. For example, we are often told to “Have it your way!” “Super size it!” and “Obey your thirst!” on TV advertisement, but at the same time, society also requires people not to be obese (“What are the health consequences of being overweight?”).
Anyway, there is considerable disagreement about the role consumers, companies, and governments should take to better inform and motivate people to act more responsibly with respect to food consumption behavior. The chief critics of food industry marketing practices include public health experts, nutritionists, consumer advocates, parent activists, and public interest organizations. Companies most often accused of contributing to the obesity epidemic through their marketing practices include chain restaurants and manufacturers of high fat and/or high calorie (high fat/calorie) packaged foods with minimal nutritional value.
However, government institutions have failed in the face of obesity, relying on attributions of personal responsibility and weak attempts at education while protecting practices such as food marketing that contribute to the problem.
For this reason, government institutions must set a socially realistic target of harm reduction. Junk-food sellers might be given the responsibility of cutting in half over ten years the incidence of obesity in schoolchildren. Junk food might be defined as products with a composition of more than 30 percent fat or 40 percent sugar. A government agency should determine each regulated firm's share of the junk-food market.
Many difficult regulatory details would have to be worked out to make such plans operational. In this way, the food industry can also help by "reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods; ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers; practicing responsible marketing; ensuring the availability of healthy food choices and supporting regular physical activity practice in the workplace" (“Obesity and overweight”). Even though people want to eat healthy foods, if no one produces and sells healthy foods then it will be very difficult for people to prevent obesity and overweight.
To conclude, it should be mentioned, that obesity is widespread today, because cheap food is everywhere. Because cheap food has a lot of fat and little nutrients, many people who cannot afford healthier foods consume too many bad calories. Also, as more of the world’s people live in developed countries they do not exercise as much. So there are a lot of obese and overweight people in the world. This is bad because of the many diseases that obesity and overweight can cause. It is a big problem, so the solution requires a lot of people. Not only individuals but society and industry have to work together to solve this social problem. And historically it has been the role of government to regulate public health, safety, and welfare. The law has a powerful role to play in confronting factors that con tribute to obesity, including food marketing, the overabundance and overaccessibility of nonnutritious foods, the lack of nutrition information in restaurants, and the possible addictive properties of food. So, responsibilities of both government and people are harnessed to solve health problems caused by their products and prevent obesity.