Obesity Is a Psychological and Physical Health Essay

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Obesity is a psychological and physical health epidemic in America, and is leading to skyrocketing health care costs and spending. What to do about the problem is a contentious political issue, though. One side of the argument pushes for government programs, policies, and interventions such as public service announcements or prohibitions on junk food in public schools. The other side of the argument decries government intervention, suggesting that market-driven economics will at least price poor fat people out of the health care insurance market and could motivate rich fat people to change their behaviors. In between these two polarizing points of the spectrum are various ideas that might help end the obesity and overeating epidemic in the United States. This is the most sensible place to rest on the spectrum of what to do about obesity because like most political issues, obesity is not black-and-white but many shades of gray. Obesity is both a matter of personal responsibility and a matter of public health, which is why fast food, processed food, and overeating should all become socially unacceptable. For this reason, the best solution to the obesity problem is public health programs that promote personal responsibility.

There are many reasons why obesity is a public health problem, and must be treated as such. The ways obesity are a health problem can be divided into two parts: causes of obesity and effects of obesity. Both the causes and effects of obesity are cultural, or public, health matters. First, contributing factors of obesity are embedded in the American society: eating too much of the wrong food. This is an indisputable fact, about which there is no disagreement. People who are obese got that way because they made bad lifestyle choices that are supported by the community. There is no stigma against eating McDonald's, even though McDonald's is as disgusting as crack. In fact, there is widespread social support for eating fast food. Advertising is only part of the problem.
It is not just advertising that promotes fast food. It is an entire culture that promotes a set of lifestyle habits that include eating fast food and not exercising. As Warner points out, Americans make these bad lifestyle choices because the culture is oriented towards eating poorly.

Second, obesity is a public health problem because of its effects. Many would say that fat people are like second-hand smoke. While looking at a fat person is not going to give someone cancer, the collectively fat and flabby suburban community shopping at Wal*Mart and willfully oblivious to the world is one of the most depressing things about America. Being exposed to this fat underbelly of American society is enough to make a person suicidal.

Another reason why the effects of obesity should be framed as a public health matter is more measurable and quantifiable. It is expensive to maintain a country of obese people. Type 2 Diabetes is caused directly by lifestyle choices and obesity, and spending on Type 2 Diabetes is around $100 billion per year, according to Zinczenko. Health care costs on preventable problems like Type 2 Diabetes and other obesity-related problems are skyrocketing, in part because an increasing appreciation for the need of universal health care is making it so. This is no reason to trash public spending on health care, though. Balko balks at Obama's health care initiatives like the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and yet these programs are not the problem. It is good that Americans are warming up to the idea that health care is a human right. The problem is that there are too many fat people to subsidize. It is possible to believe in universal health care as a human rights issue, but also to fight obesity using the methods associated with public health administration. It is essential to provide health coverage to all Americans, and it would be best if preventable problems like obesity and smoking-related….....

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