Over the years obesity has become a serious health epidemic, more than one-third of Americans are considered obese. The question is, how do individuals allow themselves to get to this point? And how severe is this issue? In Radley Balko’s, “What You Eat Is Your Business”, The argument he addresses is that obesity is in fact a problem, and the government is interfering by trying to help people who are obese. According to Balko, individuals are personally responsible for our habits that ultimately lead to obesity, and he whole heartedly denies that food manufacturers and the government have nothing to do with people becoming obese. Balko suggests that our choices in daily food habits and choices affect our health, he also states the government is making outrageous decisions attempting to help people with obesity. In order to support his argument, he states, “President Bush earmarked $200 million in his budget for anti-obesity measures” (Balko, 467). Continuing, Balko also states that this specific situation is going to cost people who are not obese, and cost those who have a healthier life style. He makes his statement clear when he explains, “Your heart attack drives up the cost of my premiums and office visits” (Balko 467). He largely emphasizes that the government is interfering with societies health. Obesity shouldn’t be any concern to the public according to his statement; “The best way to alleviate the obesity “public health” crisis is to remove obesity from the realm of public health” (Balko 468). Obesity is very problematic in America, and it is only a growing matter as the years progress, costing a substantial amount in medical bills. In Balko’s closing conclusion he states, that everything would drastically change if someone else has to pay. “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). Balko argues that people are being pampered by the government and once that ceases many people are going to suffer.


I disagree with Radley Balko’s view that obesity is an individual’s personal responsibility because he doesn’t look at the many factors that may cause people to consume more food than needed. As a fourth year medical assistant, I have learned a lot of information pertaining to obesity. Many people suffer from (BED) “Binge Eating Disorder”. Binge eating disorder is a serious health issue that is caused by genes, thoughts, feelings, and social issues. People diagnosed with BED consume food as a source of comfort unable to control themselves because of their inconceivable amount of unbalanced emotions. Personally, I’ve had the misfortune to witness individuals who suffer with BED, these individuals include my father, and his side of the family. Under stressful situations, or during a dramatic event my father and his family tend to eat more than the average individual should, increasing their calorie intake by double the recommended. Balko continues to talk negatively about people who are obese but never thoroughly explains reasons on why people over eat.Obesity_Square_thumb

Yes, the government is pampering people who are dealing with obesity but, it’s a positive and helpful effort in my point of view. I understand Balko’s second point of view that obesity is adding to our taxes yearly and that is affecting society. Although honestly, I personally fail to see any drastic decrease in my paychecks regarding his underlying statement. Balko has over exaggerated that we lose so much money because of people that have different eating habits, or are overweight and always having medical problems. People who are obese may have many health issues, but health issues also affect those who are considered fit. In my line of work, I encounter patients who are very young and in shape, but suffer many health issues. It seems that Balko’s primary focus is on obese individuals, but does not give insight to what unhealthy eating habits can lead to other than major weight gain.

Balko does not fully understand what overweight individuals are going through. Balko is a great writer, but stating that obese people have a personal responsibility, has infuriated many people. Most Americans seem to be on the go and hardly make time in the day to make healthy eating decisions. The lack of time and energy makes it almost impossible to cook daily. Many individuals have strict and demanding jobs that are time consuming leaving them no choice than to pick up something from a fast food joint. It is obvious that one would most likely love to make their own meals and sit down with their families at the dinner table but can’t find time. One thing Balko is right about is that fast food is bad for us and causes significant weight gain. Unfortunately, some people just don’t have any other choice than to pull up to the nearest fast food joint for a quick and easy bite.

In my point of view, I believe Balko needs to understand that this isn’t a choice. People suffer greatly because of obesity and I highly doubt anyone enjoys suffering. They deal with a variety of situations and daily obstacles that they encounter in life. Stating that obesity is a choice is wrong, who would possibly put themselves in an uncomfortable and even life threating position on purpose? If that were the case, it would be unsettling. Obesity is a major health issue and comes with many complications. For Balko to believe that it’s a personal responsibility is absurd. No one understands what anyone is going through.  If Balko gave us some of his personal experiences or factual anecdotes, it would have had a different impact on me and other readers. This article struck me on a personal level because I have witnessed what obese people go through. My Hispanic side of my family are almost all obese, and It’s easy to understand how they got to where they are now. It’s heartbreaking witnessing people you love go through situations where they would allow themselves to make these unhealthy decisions. In conclusion, Balko’s evidence on obesity being a personal responsibility was not thorough enough to capture my attention and allow me to understand his point of view. Balko lacked evidence and could have been more convincing if he had been able to pay in mind what obese individuals go through daily. If you’re going to blame someone for something there has to be a variety of evidence that is both visually clear to someone as well as being able to dig deeper into any and all underlying factors that may be hidden.


Works Cited

(Balko, Radley. “What You Eat Is Your Business” Pg. 467) “President Bush earmarked $200 million in his budget for anti-obesity measures”

(Balko, Radley. “What You Eat Is Your Business” Pg. 468) “The best way to alleviate the obesity “public health” crisis is to remove obesity from the realm of public health”

(Balko, Radley. “What You Eat Is Your Business” Pg.469) “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, Radley. “What You Eat Is Your Business” Pg.467) “Your heart attack drives up the cost of my premiums and office visits”