Call me old fashioned, but I believe in taking accountability for your actions.
Apparently the American Medical Association does not quite agree with this sentiment. You may recall their decision from this summer to classify obesity as a disease, and that insurance companies need to honor that by covering procedures, surgery and diet counseling.
Let me start off by saying that I do recognize that certain people do have disorders make them accumulate weight faster than others, and that diet and exercise is not enough. However, this is just one of the many things that our society has self-prescribed.
By classifying obesity as a disease, we are allowing the individuals who have decided to have unhealthy eating and exercise habits to continue their behavior. They now, by law, will have access to weight loss surgeries and diet medication. This will only work short term, as you are not “curing” their so-called disease. Their behavior has not changed.
What we really need to do is diagnose the real disease, and that is consumerism and convenience. People can talk about the good old days of healthy eating and no chemicals and all that. However, they are missing a key element in all of this, and that is the boom of technology and advertising.
Even as little as 30 years ago, companies did not have the advertising power as they do now. With technology being more accessible to most, food advertisements show up when you’re listening to Pandora, when you’re surfing the web and checking your Facebook. Can you ignore them? Sure, but advertising works for a reason, and although you ignored that Big Mac, you may not be so lucky with that Frosty.
Another issue is affordability and convenience. Say what you will, but life is different than the times of our parents. With both parents working and soccer schedules to keep up with, along with other daily activities, a bag of pre-made food is oftentimes going to be the go-to over a home cooked meal. As lame of an excuse as that is, most families are finding that to be their reality, and the cycle continues when the convenience is met every time.
Food companies have really made this an issue as well. They now make manufactured food less expensive. It is tricky because you get so much food for so little, but most of that food is not nutrient rich. Yes families on a tight budget have fed their members, but they also have tighter fitting pants and higher blood pressure. And because of their busy schedules and school cutting P.E., and not to mention video games and the Internet, it makes it that much harder to get the kids out to go exercise.
I do not know exactly what the cure is for all of this, but I certainly do not think calling a lifestyle choice a disease is wise. Soon we will be doing this to everything that starts to be a societal trend. If it starts here, why not classify smoking as a disease, or Internet surfing? Obesity as a disease may help people get more educated and help them get on track with a healthy lifestyle, but it is hard to ignore who’s really going to be helped during all this, and that’s the drug and insurance companies. If we can all just make an investment in healthier lives, classifications like this will not be necessary.
Holly Mayer is a junior English major and ethnic studies minor. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.