Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Is Obesity the Government's Responsibility?

My husband and I recently took a very long road trip. We traveled 65 hours (5000 miles) by car in a period of a week. I think that might be the definition of insanity. J It is not something I would recommend to everyone! But boy do you learn a lot about the other person in that span of time! Even after 10 years of marriage. Most of all you learn not to be a backseat driver. Hehe.

We had a lot of great conversations during our 65 hour trip, but one in particular still has its hold on me. One of our conversations revolved around the idea of individual responsibility vs. corporate responsibility. We could also say individual responsibility vs. government responsibility. As a medical health professional and someone who has spent a lot of time working in the public/community health sector, I tend to think (but not always) that if the government can do something to reduce disease risk, they should. My husband on the other hand, views individual responsibility as much more important and thinks that we should rely on the individual alone to make healthy changes.

So I am curious, as a student in this field, what do you think? Do you think preventable diseases like obesity should be the government’s responsibility or not? Why or why not?

Emily Boldrin PhD, RD


RivkieG said...

Glad your marriage survived the 65 hour trip :). It is such a controversial topic; on the one hand we as Americans have the right and freedom to choose, on the other hand we put our trust in government organizations to regulate items sold as food. Perhaps if those organizations already in place did their jobs efficiently there may be less of a problem.

Kalexmac said...

I think it is the government's responsibility to provide education and resources. However, ultimately it is the individual's responsibility to him/herself and his/her family to take control of personal health. I have found that when it comes to our personal health issues regardless of what we read or hear or government legislation, unless we really want to make a change, we will not. If you limit the size of soft drinks served, some will just buy two. I have known of people who have emphysema who refused to stop smoking. If we don't take personal responsibility, we won't make the healthy choice.

Nicole Heim said...

Some of the new research out there suggests that our obesity problem is a result of sugar being added to everything. I can even taste it in sandwich bread! My question would be, what if the government regulated 'hidden' sugars; those that are found in foods we do not typically associate with sugar? Even without the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, people are unknowingly consuming sugars.

I am hopeful that the new FDA food labels that list 'added sugar' under carbohydrates will help consumers make better decisions about what they eat. I have read that manufactures are attempting to reduce the amount of added sugar in their products because of this change. This would be government intervention without really telling the consumer what they can and cannot have, or the manufacturer how to produce their food.

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