The image of a thin American woman has only become a recent trend in society. Diets and workout videos have only recently started popping up as television commercials and the over all health of the population has just become an increasing trend. This new spike in keeping healthy began when Surgeon General David Satcher announced in 2001 that American obesity was becoming an epidemic and that the USA was the worlds most obese nation. Since then, there has been a rapid increase in the over all health of the American Public and a decline in the nations average body mass index (BMI). The BMI system measures the amount of fat a person has compared to their height and weight. Anyone with a BMI over 25 is considered overweight; according to a study conducted by one of the top medical journals, The Lancet, when national BMIs are compared, America is not even in the top 10. America has lost its perviously held number one spot to Nauru. Over the last decade or so, the push for government intervention and personal motivation to get fit, and healthy has paid off. While American men are rated 10th on the BMI scale, amongst men internationally, American women are ranked 36th with a BMI of 28.7. This is proof that, obesity can be sustained and maintained at its current levels and even prevented for the future.
One of the most important factors in fighting obesity is government intervention. Government intervention into the personal lives of the public is constantly being called into question: how far can they go? The government has already intervened into the every day lives of Americans; they have done this so much and so well that people hardly notice it anymore, and if they do it is pretty well accepted as the law. For example, traffic lights, curfew laws, and school curriculums. A major issue with the government trying to reduce the and maintain the current levels of obesity in America is the fact that their intervention would have to surpass laws and school curriculums. These laws would have to enter a new sphere of influence perviously untouched: the private sphere. The private sphere is a space known only to the person who possesses it; it contains their thoughts, desires and knowledge. Republicans feel that there should be little to no government involvement into this realm while Democrats feel that there should be a great deal of intervention. But with an issue such as obesity, something needs to be done.
A government official cannot sit down with every family during every meal to make sure good eating habits are being enforced and proper exercise routines are being followed. One possible way of doing this, according Kersh and Monroe, is to create an even stronger sense of social disapproval. The idea is to alter social norms and have fast food chains and fattening foods be thought of as highly unacceptable. According to Kersh and Monroe, a step like this should be conducted similarly to the way things like marijuana and alcohol were deemed socially unacceptable and bad. Another way to influence public behavior is through medical-science which means allowing people to know facts about being overweight and what it means to be physically fit. However, according to the authors, the facts do not have to be entirely accurate; the idea is to convey the true message that being overweight is not good and will soon be socially unacceptable. Also, people should be able to get help outside of the gym, according to the authors, who want there to be group meetings similar to meetings set up for drug addicts. The demon user/ industry effect is to make Americans feel that people who eat poorly and industries that promote poor health habits are “demons,” or bad.
Surprisingly, it is easier than it seems to put a demonic spin on negative foods such as sugar. Sugar is the most toxic out of all the foods. Although there are positive sugars that come from eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables that will give off quick and healthy energy, most people receive negative, fatty sugar, allowing a toxic sludge to form inside of their bodies that make them sleepy and fat. Recently, it was proven that some artificial flavorings and sweeteners can cause early signs of cancer. Also, hard sugars, the sugars that make foods such as cakes and sodas taste delicious, increase calorie intake, allowing fat to marbleize into muscle and other body tissues, making it almost impossible to rid the body of its new found layering. Sugars also cause acne and have also been linked to attention deficit disorders. This fat not only makes way for America’s “obesity” problem, but it also creates social issues for children and teens. As it turns out, sugar is toxic to the body.
Following up with “toxic” sugar, a study produced by one of the top medical journals, The Lancet’s, the government should be responsible for making healthy foods cheeper and affordable. They should be easily accessible at both private and public schools along with universities. A large portion of American citizens that are overweight are underprivileged and cannot afford top grade foods, especially since the price of produce and lean meats has risen significantly with the current economic recession and the decline in the American agricultural industry. So, a possibility to increase health in the general public would be to produce cheeper produce and for the government to fund more home-grown produce, such as establishing new farms and giving money to already existing ones.
The truth is, it is very hard to influence the public and personal sphere of America. But, if it is reached, it is possible that obesity can be maintained at its current levels and even possibly decreased and one day stopped.