Editor’s Note: As we discovered in our “Overweight: What Kids Say” review, the causes of being overweight are complex. Today’s guest blogger, Thomas Warren, constructively critiques the current measures America is taking to solve the obesity epidemic.
If you follow the efforts of first lady Michelle Obama, then you have no doubt heard about her Let’s Move campaign, which focuses on getting young people out of the obesity index and into a healthier lifestyle. And while there is certainly an inordinately large number of overweight children in our country, of greater concern should be the number of adults who suffer the same malady.
But what is our government doing to address this growing concern? How do they plan to attack the epidemic that leads to some of our deadliest disorders, from diabetes to heart disease?
A search of the USDA website pertaining to the Food Pyramid shows that they have revamped the image of old (it now sports a rainbow and a tiny stick figure climbing a set of stairs on one side) and taken a stance that is decidedly in favor of a flexitarian diet, consisting of mostly vegetarian with some animal products and very little fat and sugar.
(Editor’s note: If this diet appeals to you, check out Live Lighter’s regular guest blogger and flexitarian cookbook author, Bindu Grandhi. Get your daily dose of food and nutrition with mouth-watering images in her entertaining, personable posts.)
The USDA included some interesting website features, like a meal planner, a nutrition tracker, and even a section that discusses how food goes “from farm to table.” While this is a notable and encouraging change from past trends, it is still woefully inefficient since people must know where to look in order to seek out the information provided by this government agency.
Of course, a more public display of governmental might in the fight against fat was seen in the recent move to ban trans fats from public eating establishments. While this was a coup for nutrition in our country on the whole, it still does little to stop the sugar content found in most foods (whether at restaurants or in packaged goods from the grocery store).
And as everyone knows (or should know), sugars that can’t be processed or eliminated by the body are quickly turned into – you guessed it – FAT.
In short, it seems that anyone who wants to understand nutrition must pretty much fend for themselves.
Now, this is not to say that individuals don’t bear personal responsibility for the state of their health. Each one of us is solely responsible for maintaining our physical state to the best of our ability.
However, we are, to some extent, forced to function within a system that dictates the types of food that are available for our consumption. We can’t all be ranchers and farmers!
This is where the government comes in. It is their take on nutritional guidelines that determines which foods are available to the public and which are out of bounds. But they seem either unable or unwilling to promote strict restrictions when it comes to foods that are patently unhealthy.
And if you think that this move would be too restrictive and overstep the bounds of governmental influence, think again.
Consider how many cities and states have made the move to ban smoking in public spaces. Aren’t you glad that you’re now far less likely to be the victim of cancer from second-hand smoke?
Why can’t we allow the government to do the same thing for nutrition? They have the power to place restrictions on what goes into grocery stores. And moreover, they should.
If we can’t police our own eating habits (as we have made abundantly clear), then perhaps the government should take steps to revise nutritional guidelines to the point that we are protected from filling our bodies with harmful chemicals and additives found in modern foods.
If the foods are off the shelves, we will have no alternative but to adopt healthier eating habits. And that is reason enough to entertain the notion.
About the Author
Thomas Warren writes for a medical careers website where you can find tips, advice, and the latest news about jobs in the medical field.
Do you think we need government regulation on junk food?