5 March 2013
Government, Fast Food and American Obesity
Should the government get involved in controlling what food options are available to American consumers in an effort to fight the war on obesity? The obesity rate for Americans today has almost doubled compared to the rate in 1997 (CDC, 2012). Some believe this increase, especially in children, has to do with the increase in so many unhealthy fast food restaurants (Chou et al, 2010). However, does the government have the right to tell fast food restaurants what to serve or tell people what to eat? It would seem to be the individual's responsibility to take charge of his or her own health, yet obesity is rising and leading to more health issues. Therefore, government should step-in by restricting the amount of high volume fat, sodium, and other unhealthy ingredients served in fast food restaurants, by requiring the calories to be clearly listed, and by providing more education for people because these changes will have a positive effect on the health and choices of consumers.
First, the government should restrict the amount of fat, sodium and sugar used in certain fast food items, as well as educate people about the harmful effects of consuming processed foods in high quantities. The government could set guidelines for how much is used in a menu item. For example, a McDonald's cheeseburger contains 810 mg. of salt when the American Heart Association suggests a daily adult intake of no more than 1500 mg. (AHA, 2013). Does McDonald's really need to use so much salt in one burger? With two cheeseburgers, an adult is already over the recommended intake. What about children, whose bodies are smaller and still developing? According to the AHA, “97% of children and adolescents eat too much salt, putting them at risk for cardiovascular diseases when they get older” (AHA, 2013). According to the Harvard School of Public Health, processed foods, fried foo...