In the 1950s, advertisements said that 4 out of 5 doctors recommended cigarette smoking. Now due public services announcements reporting the problems of cigarette smoking, this harmful habit is becoming less and less common every day. This cultural shift saved the lives of millions of Americans. If this technique can work with cigarette smoking, it can also work with the obesity epidemic that we are currently experiencing at the moment. More people are overweight than ever before, and it is all due to being constantly surrounded by unhealthy food. In America, the food industry constantly promotes itself on commercials, magazine advertisements, and billboards across the nation. Not to mention there are fast food restaurants everywhere you look. Are there as many health food stores as there are fast food restaurants? The answer is no because the government manipulates what we eat. The food industry is to blame for the obesity epidemic because of the mass advertisement, convenience, and government manipulation.
The food industry capitalizes its products by using mass advertisement. We see constant advertisements for unhealthy food everywhere we go. These advertisements use stand-out colors and usually have some crazy cartoon character, some sexy model, or a buff sports player to catch the public eye. This makes people curious on what product they are advertising and convinces those people that their product is beneficial to them. Then the general public buys these food products or goes to these fast food restaurants helping the food industry make money off of cheap, unhealthy meals. Unfortunately, people in this day and age believe anything that is in on the television whether it is realistic or not. As David Zinczenko states in his essay Don’t Blame the Eater, “Whatever happen to personal responsibility?”(pg 391). Well I can tell what happened to personal responsibility, it went away when Paris Hilton came on the television promoting the latest cheeseburger from Carl’s JR. Unfortunately, in our minds Paris Hilton is a sex symbol so people are more likely to pay attention to the advertisements and buy the product or go to that particular food place. Our minds tend to be attracted to things that look great but are really bad for us. Initially, people don’t know that they are damaging so they consume large portions of their snacks, meals, or drinks without seeing what they really are. Personal responsibility is taken away and replaced by the outcome of weight gain and health problems resulting from the over consumption of unhealthy foods. These advertisements stimulate the mind in the wrong way causing the loss of personal responsibility and overeating to take over.
Unhealthy food options are easy to find and even easier to buy. First off there are currently five times more fast food restaurants than grocery stores in the United States. Most of the fast-food places have drive-thrus which is convenient for our fast-paced lifestyles. No one wants to or seems to have the time to drive to a health food store and physically walk in the store in order to get their food. People usually want their food right away and they want that food to fill them up as quickly as possible which is why food places sell unhealthy snacks, drinks, and meals. They know that healthy food is not as filling and leaves people to still be hungry afterwards. Almost all food locations know this fact so they serve unhealthy food items to satisfy their customers. They do not care if what they are selling is healthy or not, they just want to have business. Manchester, Kentucky is one of the unhealthiest places in America with an obesity as high as 52 percent. One of the reasons for this shocking statistic could be that the residents of Manchester are surrounded by places that sell unhealthy food items. Pam Mathis, a resident of Manchester, Kentucky supported the statement above by mentioning that “the intersection…features a McDonald’s, a Wendy’s, an Arby’s and a Subway and just beyond that, there’s a Burger King, a Long John Silver’s, a Lee Famous Recipe Chicken, a Pizza Hut and a Wal- Mart where everything is sold in supersize helpings”(pg 409). Manchester is one example of the many American towns that are surrounded by fast food. Unfortunately these types of setups are everywhere in the United States and it is just not right. Health food stores could have easily been as accessible as fast food joints if only this point was established earlier. Easy accessibility to unhealthy foods is one of the key causes of this obesity epidemic.
The food industry makes unhealthy food convenient on purpose. It noticeably takes less time and money to create processed junk food then to grow a crop of healthy fruits and vegetables. After the food industry adds various chemicals and GMOS into the food, they put all the processed foods in all different stores, schools, all across the United States. Processed junk food is cheaper than healthy food because junk food is cheaper to make. The food industry knows that people buy the cheapest thing that will satisfy their needs especially in this economy so they make the cheapest foods taste really good and make the body want to eat more of that particular food. Once people start eating too much unhealthy junk foods, it starts to affect their health in a negative way. People then need outside sources to help them maintain their health. This creates business for all exercise facilities like the gym and creates sales for exercise products like sports gear and weights. These unhealthy foods also help the medical field because it increases the sales of medication, gives doctors’ offices, dentists, and hospitals more business and allows the government to install a costly healthcare plan. The food industry wants to make people sick so exercise and medical businesses can excel finding yet another way to have citizens give the government more money. The food industry makes processed food convenient because it is cheaper and give companies business.
The government has its hand in what choices the food industry makes. They realize that we are in currently in an obesity epidemic and as our nation’s leaders, they are trying to figure out a way that we could be healthier in our meal choices. To tackle this issue, the government is focusing on socialism rather than personal responsibility. The government wants us to pay for other people’s health problems. If someone has a heart attack, people have to take money out of their wallets to pay for that person’s medical bills and medication. As Radley Balko states in his essay What You Eat Is Your Business, “If the government is paying for my anti-cholesterol medication, what incentive is there for me to put down the cheeseburger?” (pg ) Clearly, our government should be working on a way to have American gain a sense of responsibility on what they eat and how they exercise. Instead of implementing nutritional practices over and over again, the government should figure out how they can create a cultural shift that will portray unhealthy food as it truly is: harmful to the human body. A cultural shift portraying cigarettes as a harmful habit instead of a relaxing fixation happened and now the number of people smoking cigarettes are decreasing every year. The same cultural shift effect could happen with unhealthy food if the government is willing to attempt to do this. The government’s solution to stop this obesity epidemic is not working and needs to be revised immediately.
Instead of placing the blame on other issues our nation should take action to stop this obesity epidemic. There are many ways that our nation’s leaders can help our country to lead a better lifestyle. One way could be to build more health food store and making them cheaper so more people can buy their products or just making healthy foods cheaper in general. Another way to stop this epidemic is to improve the way we are educated on food and personal responsibility to empower the public. The point is that the food industry needs to tell the truth on these food items and replace the unhealthy items with healthy items and they need to find a way to do it fast or else who knows what our nation will become.