Obesity has been recognized as a national problem in America affecting well over 50% of the population. This condition has been blamed for many a medical complication as well as death in adults. Owing to the prevalence of obesity there have been calls for action to be taken so as to alleviate the condition. These calls for action can broadly be categorized as government driven initiatives and the personal driven ones.
There is contention as to whether the government should be allowed to directly intervene on a person’s eating habits as eating is deemed to be a hugely personal matter. This paper shall compare two essays; one that opposes government intervention and another one that supports government intervention. The claims advanced by both essays shall be discussed and support offered on behalf of the claims analyzed. This shall be in a bid to ascertain which argument is of a higher quality.
The essay by Balko Bradley proposes that each person should be held accountable for their own diet and lifestyle and that government intervention only serves to absolve a person from taking responsibility for his dietary decisions. The author traces the origins of the problem to the move towards a nationalized health care system which leads to the whole American population collectively bearing the burden caused by the obese population. Balko insists that this government intervention only serves to “remove the financial incentive for making healthy decisions” since the law dictates that health insurance premiums be kept uniform.
This leads to a situation whereby a person who practices a healthy lifestyle is forced to subsidize the cost of the unhealthy lifestyle person. In my opinion, Balko is not fair in his arguments against government intervention. He begins by somewhat ridiculing the government efforts and takes on a skeptical note as to the success that government interventions would have in reducing obesity prevalence. The author also fails to credibly back up his claims that the current health care system is responsible for the obesity problem and the reader can therefore not able reconcile the health-care system and the obesity problem as the author proposes throughout the essay.
Brownwell and Nestle theorize that the government is responsible for creating an environment in which healthy diets and lifestyles are promoted in the interest or all. This they argue is the only way that the prevalence of obesity in recent years can be curtailed. The authors begin by stating that the food industry is a profit making enterprise and as such, the industry’s primary objective is increased sales even if at the cost of the public’s health and subsequently proceed to draw parallels between the increase in obesity through the years and the increase in the marketing efforts by the food industry.
Brownell and Nestle also perform a deductive reasoning in their counterclaims against the personal responsibility argument. The authors assert that irresponsibility cannot be on a constant uniform increase across the world as is the case with obesity. The authors are fair in their arguments since they give both sides of the argument fair thought. They then proceed to refute each opposing view by credible argument. For example, the argument that the food industry only reacts to demand by the consumers is refuted by the authors claim that eating is a biological matter and “humans are hardwired to like sweet foods”.
In my opinion, Brownell and Nestle’s essay presents a superior argument on the matter.
The authors make use of statistical information to make their point; this not only reinforces their arguments but it also shows that a lot of research has gone into coming up with the essay. Brownell and Nestle make use of historical events to reinforce their claims. This is evident in their reference of the tobacco issue which also presented similar arguments; for and against government intervention. The authors assert that just as the reliance on personal responsibility failed in the tobacco case; it is bound to fail in the obesity debate. This historical perspective gives depth to their argument. On the other hand, the essay by Balko fails to support most of the assertions it makes and also takes on a skeptical tone therefore not appealing to the reader’s intellect. Balko also fails to give any statistical backing to claims such as the role that the health care system plays in advancing obesity.
This greatly weakens his arguments. To the credit of both essays, they do not only restrict themselves to supporting government intervention or opposing it; instead, they also take into consideration the other side of the argument and proceed to point out the fallacies in the opposing views. This enables the reader to know of the other side’s story and therefore make a more informed decision when taking a stand on the matter.
Obesity is a nationwide problem and solutions should be sought before its effects reach catastrophic levels.
This paper offered a brief analysis of two essays that propose differing views as to how solving this problem should be undertaken. From the arguments presented herein, it can be proposed that government initiatives aimed at reducing obesity are the best means through which this disaster can be contained. While appealing to personal responsibility may be the ideal means in a society that is build on the basis of personal freedom, this may prove to be disastrous especially in the face of the aggressive advertisement and marketing schemes undertaken by the food industry players.
Balko, R, Brownell, K & Nestle, M. “Are You Responsible for Your Own Weight?” 07 June 2004 Web. 18 March 2010, http://www.time.com/time/subscriber/covers/1101040607/article/are_you_responsible_for01a.html