In a country where millions of people are well over the line to obese, where a salad will almost always cost less than a high-fat burger, where getting soda and candy and any other junk food is easier than finding quality fruits and vegetables, it is painfully obvious that something needs to change. It’s widely recognized that there has to be something — or a lot of somethings, actually — to battle this ever-growing problem. The question is, what?
And that is exactly what people disagree on: exactly what they feel should be done. According to a poll done by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, respondents’ opinions on what should or should not be done by the government to fight obesity varies dramatically. While a third felt the government should play a pivotal role in finding solutions for the problem, approximately another third felt it should be mostly uninvolved, with the rest somewhere in between.
Oddly enough, lots of people agreed on an issue that has sometimes seemed controversial: 8 out 10 stated that they would support more physical activities in schools, as well as better nutritional guidelines. 7 out of 10 said they would support the FDA making restaurants show each menu item’s calorie counts — a measure I definitely support because it has absolutely made me rethink choices I was about to make that were way too high in calories, but I would never have guessed. For example, when I almost fell for the whole “ordering a salad is usually healthier than other options” myth a few years ago at a restaurant and was thinking of getting some sort of chicken salad, my mother insisted I check the nutrition (the establishment offered the info, but didn’t have it on the menu). When I looked, I was shocked: it had 1800 calories, which I would never have guessed. So, I think having restaurants show information like that, we’ll be able to make better choices, just like when we read food labels while shopping in the grocery store.
But where is the line drawn for most people when it comes to government involvement? Apparently, it lies in taxing foods that are deemed unhealthy — a full 60% of respondents opposed what are commonly (and unpleasantly) known as “fat taxes.” And 75% were against possible restrictions on the products people can purchase. Most said that dealing with obesity, in their opinions, was an issue up to the individual.
There’s no doubt that this is a controversial issue and we care about what you think on the topic, so we’re going to conduct our own poll. Tell us what your opinion about this important issue, and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.
Photo: Flickr / pariktigt20.