Rebuttal Essay – Jon Otero

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

While many Americans today affected by obesity are being anchored down by their heavy weight physically and mentally, there are those who would argue that this condition is not at all a disease. Opponents of obesity sometimes develop the wrong idea that obesity is actually a lifestyle choice.  So when these people hear about a drug that could fight obesity, currently under trial by the FDA, they don’t particularly care for it because they feel like these people could just choose to stop being obese. This is a flaw in logic that must be addressed before I can convince people that Qnexa should be passed. It stems from another problem: misinformation. Although obesity is not actually classified as a disease, it is far from merely being a lifestyle choice and has been proven to be full of dangers that cannot simply be given up due to many physical and financial restrictions placed on so many obese people.

First of all, obesity cannot simply be generalized as a lifestyle choice. To say that would be ignoring all of the factors that are tied into a person’s weight. Evidence suggests that genetics, wealth, environments, and even the health of mothers during pregnancy can shape a person’s body. Just because an obese person eats does not mean that person is choosing to remain obese. Obesity can start even before birth. When a mother is overweight or obese during her pregnancy, she risks developing gestational diabetes. This gestational diabetes can cause the child to be born with a high birth weight. Children born with high birth weight become susceptible to childhood obesity, the precursor to its adult form. Even before pregnancy, certain genes can cause people to inherit thyroid deficiencies. The thyroid is a gland responsible for metabolizing of energy. When it doesn’t function properly, energy will not be used and will be stored as fat. Just like a person can inherit genes, they also inherit wealth to varying degrees. Healthy food is expensive and cheap food often lacks nutrition. When a person cannot gather the essential nutrients to carry out bodily functions, because of their environment or economical status, the body stores fat. Even psychological factors or habits unrelated to food or exercise can cause a person to gain weight. With that said, obesity is far from being a lifestyle choice for so many Americans.

A person arguing that drugs shouldn’t be passed for obesity since it isn’t a disease is relying on incomplete information. Without enough information on the subject, a person can warp any argument in their favor if they are speaking to a non-skeptical crowd. Firstly, the FDA has passed a plethora of drugs targeting many “non-diseases” classified as medical conditions or disorders. The fact that obesity is a medical condition according to the CDC should not be taken as an excuse to disregard its prevalence and dangers. It also has ties to many diseases and other conditions that unfortunately cannot always be treated by a drug and are usually irreversible. Such diseases like coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and osteoarthritis are just some of many complications that a person becomes susceptible to as they continue their lives as obese. Passing Qnexa can help stray these people away from the dangers they’re headed toward.

Some opponents of anti-obesity campaigns argue that most people don’t even die from obesity. Even if a person doesn’t view obesity specifically as a disease, it’s tied to enough medical complications, diseases, and conditions to cause it to be a big concern for the Center of Disease Control (CDC). Its Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) is attempting to address the issue by combating some of the factors that contribute to nation’s current epidemic. If the situation were left alone, many Americans would die. While obesity doesn’t always directly cause a person to die, most of the time an obese person dies due to a disease or condition they developed because they were obese. “Individuals who are obese have a significantly increased risk of death from all causes, compared with healthy weight individuals.” (WIN) Even though obesity cannot technically be deemed as the cause of death, it indirectly takes the lives of the people it has affected in one form or another.

Most arguments against the danger of obesity fail to realize that the condition is not as simple as eating too much and looking big. The reason why obesity has become the condition it is in the United States is due to many economical, environmental, and genetic factors. Without proper education on the various stressors that are affecting those plagued by obesity, progress toward the solution will not be any easier. Safe measures should be adopted to help the situation, like the adoption of DNPAO programs and approval of safe drugs like Qnexa. These measures can help lower the mortality rates associated with obesity.

Works Cited

Gestational Diabetes.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Oct. 2011. Web. 03 Apr. 2012.

Overweight and Obesity Statistics.” WIN. Web. 03 Apr. 2012.

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2 Responses to Rebuttal Essay – Jon Otero

  1. oteroj40 says:

    Could you look my paper over? I would appreciate feedback, thank you

  2. davidbdale says:

    Sure, Jon.

    The logic in your introduction is perfectly reasonable and developed step by step. I wouldn’t change the thinking at all. Let me offer instead a style recommendation that might add to persuasiveness. You name opponents of Qnexa three times, as “there are those who would argue,” as “Opponents of obesity,” and as “these people.” You identify obese people twice, as “Americans affected by obesity” and also as “these people,” without actually saying they’re obese. Your opponents don’t oppose obesity, as you seem to say; they oppose Qnexa and any medical remedy for what they perceive to be a lifestyle choice. Streamlining the naming of your characters lets the important ideas stand out. For example:

    For many obese Americans burdened physically and mentally by their excess weight, obesity is an unavoidable medical condition having nothing to do with their lifestyle choices. Opponents of Qnexa and other pharmaceutical remedies proven to reduce weight, claim that obesity is a symptom of overeating and inactivity that could be cured by diet and exercise. They are misinformed.

    Your last sentence uses too many passives. It sounds apologetic, as if you don’t know who to blame for a problem: “is not actually classified” (by whom?); “has been proven” (by whom?); “cannot be given up” (by whom?); “placed on obese people” (by whom?). Current medical thinking doesn’t define obesity as a disease, but as a dangerous, even fatal, medical condition that obese patients are often unable to combat without assistance.

    I promise I won’t rewrite you any more, but I hope these examples are helpful.

    You’re exactly right to name the factors that can contribute to obesity, but why list them without support and invite reflex reader rebuttals before you get a chance to support the individual claims? Look: he’s blaming genetics, income, “the environment!” and the parents; everybody except the obese person! You may lose the argument before you even start with this technique. Instead, devote a paragraph to each, starting with the most compelling, to shut your opponents up early. Then lay on the others one at a time. A sentence like “Obesity can start even before birth” is a brilliant opener in such a strategy.

    Another style note: when you find yourself repeating phrases across a period, combine the sentences. “This gestational diabetes can cause the child to be born with a high birth weight. Children born with high birth weight become susceptible to childhood obesity, the precursor to its adult form,” contains pure repetition across the period.

    Children born with high birth weight caused by gestational diabetes are much more susceptible to childhood obesity, the precursor to its adult form.

    High birth weight is a good paragraph.

    Thyroid deficiencies is another. Develop it. We need to know just how quickly and how dramatically over- and under-active thyroids can affect weight loss and weight gain. An example of how a person whose thyroid is damaged by injury or a tumor, for example, can suddenly experience dramatic weight loss or gain with no change in diet or activity would be very helpful.

    The same thing occurs to patients who are prescribed medications that result in massive weight gains. They can’t diet their way out of the problem.

    Once you establish that there are truly medical and chemical factors that cause uncontrollable body changes, your reader might be more receptive to the economic argument, but not before.

    You probably don’t need to lecture your reader about the argument practices of your opponents (or suggest that their audiences are gullible). But you could suggest that drugs don’t need to cure disease to be valuable remedies worthy of our consideration. You might even point out that the FDA has approved many drugs to treat medical conditions far less dangerous than obesity. (In a way you do, but in far more words.) If you’re comfortable with analogy, you could suggest that the FDA approves acne remedies and sunburn creams without hearing objections. Neither is likely to lead to other illness or kill its sufferers. But untreated, uncontrolled obesity can lead to very dangerous and fatal diseases. Our choice is pretty clear. Treat the condition or risk the disease. (I’m pretty sure you don’t mean “Qnexa can help people stray away from danger.”)

    To say that nobody dies from obesity is just a rhetorical trick. You really should call your opponents on this one (again without blaming your own readers for falling for it). Nobody dies from cancer either, by the same logic. Unless we are hit by cars, we all die when our brains don’t get enough oxygen. It doesn’t matter logically whether obesity or cancer or electric shock stops the heart or lungs. So unless cancer isn’t worth treating, obesity is worth treating.

    Arguments don’t fail to realize, people do.

    Your “the reason why . . . is due to” fails for grammar Rule 3 “The reason is because.” It’s easy to fix.

    Your “Without proper education . . . progress will not” misplaces its modifier. This may be harder to hear, but I’ll be happy to help.

    You take a very reasonable approach to your topic and argument and make a compelling case that obesity can’t be blamed on obese people or their behaviors. While it’s certainly true that many people contribute massively to their own problems, it would be unfair to withhold remedies from those who don’t because there are those who do.

    My primary recommendation is to source some good cases of radical weight gains that result not from diet but demonstrably from medical conditions: sudden underactive thyroid, prescribed steroid treatments or antidepressants, hormone changes due to menopause or Cushing syndrome. Once you establish that weight gain can be truly unavoidable without treatment, you’ll have an easier time getting people to stop objecting to treatment.


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