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Body Mass Index and Health Risks

Arguably, obesity has become one of the most debated issues concerning public health. The centrality of this health crisis within the public agenda can be evidenced in the increased coverage by the media and other forms of communication. According to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio (2), the question of obesity and overweight was highlighted more than 1,400 times in the major media outlets in the United States of America. This was a notable increase in comparison to less than 12 stories in 1999. Other than the media, many conferences have been organized while a library of books was written to contribute greatly to the debate. Despite the different forms of solutions given, the most viable one to the issue of obesity and excessive weight remains in the hands of the citizens and not the legislature nor the manufacturers.

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First, it has not been determined whether the dangers associated with obesity are actually a result of the same or are they simply aftermaths of a poor diet and individuals’ lack of activity. Notably, some scholars strongly believe in the exaggeration of the health risks associated with obesity. According to them, the phobia has only been created by the increased obsession with the issue created by the media and the whole society. Consequently, American society believes that being fat is a vice while being thin is a virtue. This has led to the general belief that only thin people are healthy. This notion is actually erroneous. It is not generally true to believe this given the method through which obesity is measured. The use of the BMI index to determine whether one is obese or overweight is flawed by the fact that many aspects of the human body are not put into consideration. For instance, the gender of the individual, genetic characteristics like race, muscle mass, and bone density are not accounted for. As a result, the body mass index which specifies that all people between 25 and 29.9 are overweight while those measuring 30 or over are obese does not portray a true picture. This eventually puts all NFL players overweight while 55% are obese! (Hannah News Service 13)

Considering the above argument, it is true that the obsession with obesity as a health risk is doubtlessly a construct of society. Considering this, it is necessary that an individual reconstructs his or her mindset so that they don’t blame the ailments like heart diseases, hypertension, diabetes, and their cohorts on obesity but on their lack of physical exercise and poor diet. This is especially true as the NFL players stand a very minimal chance of suffering from such ailments despite being classified in the overweight and obese category by the BMI index. The phobia associated with being obese should be reconstructed within the individual mindsets so that people concentrate more on what they eat and how they exercise instead of concentrating on the relationship between their body weight and height (Health Policy Institute of Ohio 4).

Secondly, the legislature has been an active participant in the effort to combat increasing cases of obesity. Legislative measures have been enacted to ensure that foods produced for public consumption are healthy. A good example of this is the enactment of “twinkie” taxes that are meant to discourage the production of certain products that are deemed unhealthy or junk (Trust for America’s Health par. 21). In addition, the government has passed a law that obligates the manufacturers to give clear labeling of their products. This is meant to ensure that the public is informed on the type of food they are consuming. However, does this assist in bringing up a healthy eating habit or exercising?

The truth is no. labeling or increasing taxes cannot really ensure that the citizens are free from junk food. Once a person has developed a liking for a given product, his loyalty cannot be compromised by the labeling. In addition, if taxes are imposed on a given good, the company is very likely to echo the same increment to the consumer. Similarly, this cannot compromise the loyalty of a consumer. Most of them will be ready to shoulder the price increment but continue enjoying their beloved product. What therefore is the best way to handle this issue? Without a doubt, a change in the consumer mindset is a prerequisite. Every individual must comprehend the importance of eating healthy and exercising to live a healthy life. This means that the government and other policymakers should not concentrate on imposing taxes and forcing labeling. Instead, they should push more for public awareness which will help individuals to change their perception of obesity. Instead of focusing on the BMI index, they should put more emphasis on good eating habits and exercising. This will help those who think they are healthy just because they are slim to reconsider their positions (Hannah News Service 13).

Technological advancement is a strong pillar of economic development. A country without this is very likely to lag behind in this economically competitive era. Sadly, technological advances have greatly led to the increment in the level of overweight and obesity in the United States of America. Children and some adolescents heavily indulge in sedentary activities as encouraged by computers, televisions, and even video games. A study in 2003 pointed out that one experiences a 23% increment in chances of developing obesity for every two hours spent on television watching. Furthermore, technology has led to reduced physical exercises as most tasks that would subject the body to these exercises are done by machines (Trust for America’s Health par. 21).

What therefore is the basis of this argument? It is clear that technological advancement is the kingpin of economic development. This means that the governments remain at crossroads as to whether they should sacrifice their economic competitiveness for the health of their citizens or increase their competitiveness at the expense of the health of ignorant citizens. As a result, they opt for the later. If an individual shuns ignorance and takes it as an initiative to eat healthy and exercise greatly, it is doubtless that he will avoid all the risks associated with poor eating habits and lack of exercise. This means that it is the role of an individual to ensure that he understands the rubrics of healthy living in order to stay safe. The government efforts will result to null if the individual does not purpose to change his habits.

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In conclusion, as much as the legislators and other stakeholders have a role to play, the core of healthy living is totally dependent on the individual’s deliberate effort to ensure that he understands what a healthy living entails. The stakeholders, having understood that the individual plays the greatest and most important role in healthy living, should focus on empowering this individual so that he can change his perception and hence mindset. Otherwise, all other measures may just increase the government expenditure while offering little or no help.

Works Cited

Hannah News Service. “Taft Announces Expansion Plan of Ohio Recreational Trails.” The Hannah Report. Vol.126, No. 148. 2005.

Health Policy Institute of Ohio. Obesity: The Health Debate and Policy Challenges. 2005. Web.

Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). F as in Fat. How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2005. Web.

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