In his article “What You Eat Is Your Business,” Radley Balko argues his point of view on the way the government is trying to prevent obesity, discusses the measures the government and other people are taking to put an end to obesity, and what he thinks the government should do differently to put a stop to it.
He starts off his article by arguing his point of view on the way the government is trying to prevent obesity. He explains how Time Magazine and ABC News are getting together to host a program on preventing obesity. He says how the event will be a complete calling to all of the media, nutrition activist, and policymakers all of which Balko proclaims they want to “prohibit junk food in school vending machines, start federal funding for new bike trails and sidewalks, more demanding labels on food stuffs, restrictive food marketing to children, and prodding the food industry into more “responsible” behavior.”(Balko, 466). In making this comment, Balko is showing us what measures the government and other people are willing to take to end obesity.
He goes on to explain the measures the government and other people are taking and the amount of money they are spending to prevent obesity. He says that the government is spending millions of dollars on anti-obesity measures when he believes people need to take their own health into their own hands. He explains the measures the government is taking to help prevent obesity are things like, banning snacks and sodas from schools, putting a “fat tax” on high calorie foods, nutritional testing, and more. He goes to point out that the government is making everyone’s personal responsibility a matter of “public health” by making people pay for other people’s medicine, preventing private health insurers from charging overweight and obese clients higher premiums and more.
Balko concludes his article by stating what he thinks the government should start doing to alleviate the obesity crisis. He believes the best way to end obesity is “to remove obesity from the realm of public health.”(Balko, 468). In other words, Balko believes society needs to stop making obesity and what other people eat everyone else’s business. A few of the things Balko thinks the government should do differently are, freeing insurance companies to reward healthy lifestyles and penalize poor ones, putting a halt on plans to further socialize medicine and health care, and increase access to medical and health savings accounts so that consumers have the option of rolling money reserved for health care into a retirement account. He thinks if congress did this we would be less likely to “run to the doctor at the first sign of a cold” if we had the option to devote this money into our own retirement.
I strongly agree with Balko that people need to take their personal health into their own hands because of my personal experience with once being extremely physically and mentally unhealthy. I was once at a point where I was so physically unhealthy that it took a toll on my mental health to the point where doctors visits, and therapy sessions became a regular thing for me. I certainly did not overcome my situation with the help of others. I didn’t need a fat tax on McDonald’s and a school banning my favorite snacks to tell me to eat healthier and go to the gym, I didn’t even need a therapist or doctor to tell me to, it was a decision I made after I realized what I was doing, so I got out there one day and made myself do it. I don’t believe others need to be forced to pay for the consequences of others choices. You should be able to find enough control in yourself to stop eating junk food and get yourself into the gym if you are so unhealthy that you need help. I do understand some people truly can’t help it, whether they have bad genes or were born with health problems, but I still don’t believe that should mean everyone else should take others health into their hands and pay for their medicine when some of those who are obese aren’t even doing anything to physically change the way they are living. I agree with Balko when he says that the government should work on fostering a sense of responsibility in and ownership of our own health and well being. Society needs to get out of the habit of blaming everyone else for their problems and start owning up to their problems and dealing with the consequences themselves without expecting help from others. At the end of Balko’s article he states, “We’ll all make better choices about diet, exercise, and personal health when someone else isn’t paying for the consequences of those choices,”(Balko, 469) and I agree with this statement because once people start to see they can’t be handed everything in the real world they will eventually see they need to start doing things for themselves and stop expecting everyone’s help to do it all.
Balko, Radley. “What You Eat Is Your Business”. Cato Institute. May 23, 2004.