Monday, March 18, 2013

Rant: You're Fat & It Is Your Fault

Face the truth. The reason you are overweight is likely because you eat too much and don't exercise enough.

My Rant is not about those who have actual medical conditions that cause obesity, whether it be glandular or some other legitimate matter. I am addressing only those people for whom being overweight is due to lifestyle choices. Don't blame the soda companies, the candy makers, the cake bakers. Don't blame McDonald's, Burger King or Wendy's. Take personal responsibility for your condition. Own up to the choices you have made and accept your guilt.

Yesterday, I read an editorial in the New York Times called How to Force Ethics on the Food Industry by Michael Mudd, a former executive at Kraft Foods. Mr. Mudd wants the government to intervene " protect the public health by limiting the marketing tactics of food companies." Do we really need more government intervention into our lives, limiting our choices? Do we really need more laws?  Mr. Mudd also suggests that the government institute taxes "..on sugared beverages and a few categories — snack foods, candy, sweet baked goods — that most undermine health." Do we really need more taxes?

My main problem with Mr. Mudd's editorial is it seems to absolve people of their personal responsibility for their own actions. Do we want people to start even more lawsuits against the food industry, blaming them for obesity? We already have far too many lawsuits where people try to blame others for their own stupidity or poor choices. I want people to stand up and accept responsibility for their own actions, for eating too much, for not exercising enough. I don't think we need more laws and regulations, but rather more education for consumers.

Interestingly, Mr. Mudd seems to believe education is necessary too, as he wants the taxes on sugary drinks and foods to pay for education programs. He also wants the government to support "community-based campaigns to inform and inspire better eating and more exercise." In the suggestion changes that Mr. Mudd lists in his editorial, none mention banning over-sized drink cups. It is obvious that at its most elemental, Mr. Mudd understands personal choice is at the bottom of the problem, though he would rather cast blame on the food companies.

I want the blame squarely on the people who make the choices which lead to them being overweight. Do food companies try to convince people to make bad choices? Sure, but people should be smart enough to know better. I am overweight, and the responsibility for my condition lies solely on my own shoulders. I eat too much and don't exercise enough. I understand and accept my own culpability and I don't place the blame on anyone else. Why can't everyone else do the same?

If more people accepted personal responsibility for their actions, in all arenas, then the world would be a better place.


Anonymous said...

Sadly...we've become a society that in general lacks "personal responsibility" in many areas...this is just one. I agree...time to stop blaming others for whatever ails you" As for "educating" people about better choices...we have vast resources for information...throwing more "tax" dollars at a problem will solve nothing!

bettina said...

Thank you for this refreshing post. The previous poster is right -- American (and Western) society has become some passive in personal responsibility. It really seems like that concept barely exists anymore these days. It's scary to think about what our world will look like in even 15, 20 years... personal responsibility and ethics seems to disappear more and more by the day. Regarding personal health, I find myself guilty of this. Husband and I were drinking coke with our pizza delivery one night... and I was shocked to see the nutritional label: 65 grams of sugar in one little bottle! I haven't been able to drink coke since -- but I digress. Thanks for this timely post on such an important topic.

jkommelb said...

Absolute right; I am in a profession that leads to me being fairly sedentary for at least 8 hours a day, and I definitely don't put enough effort into working out, so I have made the conscious choice to give up some things (soda and most desserts, among others) that I really enjoy. I don't blame my work for making me less in shape than I should be; I blame myself for being a little bit lazy. Sadly, my generation does not seem to get this concept.