Wednesday, July 20, 2011


America is considered the obesity capital of the world and it is no coincidence that it is also the most economically and militarily powerful country in the world. It is no wonder that sociologists are talking about a direct relationship between wealth and obesity. Since more than 80% of the foods consumed by an average American comes from the processing industry, the health sustaining quality of these foods has an important bearing on the health and well being of the population there. Interestingly within a rich country like the US, lesser the annual individual income more is the incidence of obesity because the poor quality food with unbelievably low price tag offered by the industry is patronized more by this segment of the population!. In spite of tall talks and incessant debates regarding the desire to control obesity, very little progress is registered in reversing the current trend of more and more people being pushed into the obese category year after year as reflected by the gory statistics revealed by surveys after surveys on the population status.

"In the last 15 years, the report said, adult obesity rates have doubled or nearly doubled in 17 states. Two decades ago, not a single state had an obesity rate above 15%. Now all states do. "When you look at it year by year, the changes are incremental," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health. But if you back up a generation and look at the slow but steady climb of Americans' weight, he said, "you see how we got into this problem." "Government could start by changing agricultural subsidies, by not making it financially attractive for companies to market unhealthy foods, by placing serious restrictions on marketing to children, and with financial policies that make healthy foods cost less and unhealthy foods cost more."

It is easily said that each citizen in a country has the responsibility to look after one's health and no one else can be blamed for "over eating" and "poor quality eating" practiced by majority of the population. Policies, voluntary as well as coercive can only work up to a limit and unless consumers realize their responsibility to them selves, not much progress can be achieved in the fight against obesity. Probably what has not been tried in a serious way so far is the possibility of re-jigging of the education system, especially during the early days of child development, emphasizing on the negative and positive aspects of food consumption so that the "cause and effect" scenario is permanently embedded in the sensitive minds of the young. Supporting such a paradigm shift in educational curriculum with attractive incentives and severe restraints by the government through policy orchestration, can be expected to bring in tangible results in the fight against obesity.

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