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Is Obesity the Government's Responsibility?

Lynsey is from Scotland. She likes to write thought-provoking articles that challenge ideas and provide a talking point.


Should Our Leaders Censor What We Eat?

The health of a population is an indicator on whether a country is doing well, so I can understand, to an extent, the government's desire to ensure that we are healthy. However, the ways in which health concerns are tackled aren't always the best.

In Scotland, there are warnings on cigarettes with graphic pictures showing you what the cigarettes are doing to you. There is a nationwide smoking ban that not only affects public places but also private homes, should there be any workers in them. There is a minimum price per unit of alcohol to attempt to fight alcoholism. These changes aren't particularly important to me. I don't smoke, and I drink so little nowadays that I can't really see much of a point in complaining. But they are now targeting my food. And my food is important to me.

Regulations Limit Food Choices for Consumers

The traffic light labelling on supermarket packaging and be treatwise advice on chocolate bars seems to be the norm these days. Introduced to encourage more balanced diets and exercise, these are two of the UK government's rolled out "solutions" to obesity. There has been talk of an "obesity tax," whereby we have to pay extra to purchase an unhealthy snack. Supersize takeaway portions have been banned. Certain ingredients have been banned for being unhealthy. But where will it end? And, more importantly, why does the government take responsibility for the population's ever-growing waistband?

I totally understand that being overweight leads to further health complications. I understand that weight is an indicating factor of social depravity, despite the fact that you find plenty of rich people who are overweight. I get that more people are dying young from weight-related complications. But does that give our government the right to dictate to us what we can and can't eat?

I had a friend make a comment once. They said that the government should take responsibility and ban supermarkets from selling unhealthy options, e.g., ensure that all sandwiches be made from brown bread rather than white, that unhealthy components be removed from ready meals, etc.

Wait right there! Did I hear that right? I mean, forget the fact that the choice is there, and we can choose to be healthy, but some people think that it should be enforced? I don't agree.

I also don't agree that the government should feel burdened with the pressure of reducing our BMIs. It's up to us. Believe me, I'm not happy with my weight, but I don't want my choice taken from me. I like to have a treat now and then. Even when dieting, I enjoy a bit of chocolate or a wee take-away here and there. Choice is what makes life unique!

Choice Is Part of Democracy

If I want to eat a deep-fried bar of chocolate, I will. It's that simple! By banning Scottish chippies from serving them, no resolution has been made. Deep fat fryers can be purchased cheaply enough, and the recipe is simple to follow. Does that mean that our methods of cooking in our own homes will now be banned? How far will it all go?

Now don't get me wrong, I understand the turmoil you can go through when trying to lose weight. Everything is tempting. But doesn't it make you feel all that better for resisting? That you have made the choice? If dieting was enforced by banning everything that is tasty, there would be a huge portion of society that would be highly resentful towards the oppressors who banned everything! There would be riots!

I doubt that it would only be obese people forming picket lines and protesting throughout the country. There are plenty of people who eat responsibly and exercise, but who enjoy a treat now and then. They lead healthy lives because they choose to.

There's that word again. Choice. I do believe, that as a democracy, that we still have a choice. I sincerely hope that the government realise this and stop the fight against food before it is too late. By all means, raise awareness to allow us to make an educated choice, but at least leave us with the option! If, unfortunately, it does all go ahead, I think I'd have to emigrate. I would choose not to live in a dictatorship, even if no one had noticed the transformation.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2012 Lynsey Hart


Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on June 19, 2013:

Interesting point. The food companies here have already reduced salt and sat fat etc. mainly because they were told to! I think a lot of the attraction of the unhealthy stuff is more convenience... Fast and satisfying, at least for a while! Lollol

freeradicalsteve on June 18, 2013:

I agree with the central point of this hub, that government should not be limiting our food choices, they have far better things to do with their time and our money. Perhaps we should look at the food industry? What responsibility do they have in all this? Is the purpose of the food industry to supply healthy food at a reasonable price or to make as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time?

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on April 16, 2013:

Very interesting idea! I agree with you, it might actually encourage healthier eating. There was a campaign here last year about eating food that's in season, and there was a snack van at the local supermarket giving samples of tasty, healthy food. They gave recipes and info about what was in season, because if you buy in season food, it is fresher and cheaper! I think it totally opened people's minds to the possibilities, and similar campaigns should be done everywhere if possible.

GavNugent on April 15, 2013:

I think it would be better to subsidize healthy food rather than tax unhealthy food. The cost of eating right is considerably higher than the cost of eating unhealthily, and subsidies in the interest of public health would be more effective than a tax. Obviously, subsidies cost the government money, while tax gains them money, so it wont happen that way.

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on April 13, 2013:

I definitely agree with that, education is definitely the way forward :) Thanks for the comment :)

Desmond Lee from Singapore on April 13, 2013:

Interesting post. As a student of economics, the general theory is that the role of the government is the manage and ensure the welfare of its people and in this context, it seems like they are overdoing it though haha.

I agree that adults should have their own right to decide but the problem as a hubber mentioned above is shaping the minds of the children when they are young to know what kind of food are healthy and to enforce companies to market ethically.

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on April 08, 2013:

I agree wholeheartedly!!!! thanks for the read and the comment! :)

Jmillis2006 from North Carolina on April 08, 2013:

I say we should have the right to make our own food choices.

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on February 21, 2013:

WELL SAID!! one of the reasons i don't really support scottish independance is because i know for a fact that out gvt would go hell bent on healthiness!! noooo! don't want that! lol

Jo from Isle of Wight UK on February 21, 2013:

Great article. If local councils can give planning permission to Mcdonalds to build a 'cancer causing' pit stop for people, then they have no right to enforce illegal controls on people for being obese. People should lead by example, communities have great power to support each other, and it is high time we stop looking to white coats and government officials to tell us what to do.

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on January 14, 2013:

Thanks for your comment, Beth. I agree with you totally! I know that eating that burger/ chocolate/ kebab is what keeps me plus sized, but I still want the choice to eat it! I'd go mad if I had to go "cold turkey" teehee! Choice is the key word :)

Beth100 from Canada on January 14, 2013:

It's easy for some to say that we need to be governed by rules to keep society from becoming/staying obese. This will not work. The only genuine solution is to provide education starting from the young children through to adults. It will years before the effects will be seen, but healthy choices is a life choice. No one can enforce or force that upon another person. It's like the old saying: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Humans are the same. We may know the difference between healthy and unhealthy, but we will only choose what we want, not what is dictated.

Education, understanding and realizing that healthy habits are a lifestyle choice, is the key. It's that simple.

David H Longford from Blind River Ontario Canada on December 19, 2012:

Government officials don't "stumble" on anything. They are the creators of the "stumbling" blocks. Do not try to change the "status quo" there will be penalties to pay! DHL

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on December 15, 2012:

Thanks for your support! Maybe some government official will stumble upon this someday! And realise that we are noticing such sneaky changes!

mylindaelliott from Louisiana on December 15, 2012:

I agree in that I worry when this will stop. Yes, people need to be taught how to make better choices and supported to do so. But the extent that some governments are going to really should concern more people.

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on December 14, 2012:

Lol unfortunately in this country they just abuse protesters and stuff with batons most of the time, then claim they were out of order! C'mon democracy! Lollol

David H Longford from Blind River Ontario Canada on December 14, 2012:

Well, now you can see how "movements" can start. People get upset over the little things that they feel they can control, or change. If change doesn't come about ........ may the "creator" bring the Queen to task eh! DHL

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on December 13, 2012:

Thanks for your comment housexpert! I agree... They should lead by example rather than dictate laws!

David H Longford from Blind River Ontario Canada on December 13, 2012:

Well, all. Seems like George Orwell is not just a futuristic author anymore. His book 1984, little bit before its time, has become a "mantra" for civil servants. Did I say that right? Civil servants! Let's just ask them nicely to stay the heck out of lives. Politely, shall we. Our social and personal habits are contributing to their lifestyles and pensions. Let them practice what they preach. If you ever have the chance, walk by government buildings in Canada. I don't know about anywhere else, I don't get out much up here (Blind River CAN), but the cigarette butts and spit are far worse than the pigeon crap! Gag. Now they say that the nasty habit has to be done at least 35 ' away from the builldings. There goes the neighbourhood eh! And what about hospitals? it's Orwellian. DHL Click here if you agree 0

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on December 12, 2012:

Very glad to announce that this hub gave me the rising star award! Yaaaay!

Keith from Rural Tennessee on December 10, 2012:

Infobrowser, I have to agree with you on not all children have sensible parents. I have lived in one other country other than the states. It had a single payer system, it seemed to work OK to an extent, I just didn't care for it. My point is that at some point, people have to get out from under mothers apron and make decisions of their own. My insurance company charges me more for my premiums because I smoke. It's my choice and I have to pay for it. As far as obesity goes, I live in a country full of fatties and for the most part, it is very avoidable. I just don't believe in government regulating my personal life.

Infobrowser from UK on December 10, 2012:

Kieth, your point has many benefits I can see.

However, one retaliation I will make is that children aren't all brought up with sensible parents who feed them the right foods. These important early stages of development are crucial for preventing health problems later on in life. This would surely then affect the cost of a persons health insurance.

My point being - If a government acts like a mother to it's people, at least this greatly reduces the inequality amongst those who are too young to choose what is given to them.

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on December 09, 2012:

Yeah Keith, that may make people take more responsibility... That's been my whole point... Obesity shouldn't be down to the government to deal with! :)

Keith from Rural Tennessee on December 09, 2012:

I'm from the states and look at this very differently. How about letting people eat what they want and make them pay for their own insurance? This way they are responsible for their own actions and the government isn't acting as their mother.

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on December 09, 2012:

Well infobrowser, you must be very rich if you would be happy to have such an excessive surcharge on most products.. Plus, think of the African farmers! They make what pittance they can from their crops, and sugar cane and chocolate, as well as coffee, which is also unhealthy... Would you tax ALL of those? If so, you must be a millionaire! Some people can't afford extra on top of their bills, so do us a favour, and refrain from sharing your views on sugar tax with your MP!

Infobrowser from UK on December 09, 2012:

Sugar is blame for many of our health problems and in turn is very costly to any country. Unnecessary extra sugar in the diet exhausts the body's natural ability to burn off fat. Putting tax on sugar is a good idea because of:

1) how unhealthy it can make people

2) unhealthy, sugary food is often much cheaper than wholesome nutritious food that's full of complex carbohydrates the body needs, making the choice too easy.

3) sugar is addictive and therefore people need to be discouraged from taking too much because self discipline is easier said than done

4) much of the excess sugar we consume is hidden into foods to make them taste better ( - breakfast cereals are the major culprits!). So a tax on this deliberate overdose of refined sugar will help discourage such products from filling our shelves.

I'm scratching my chin over naturally occurring sugars though...

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on December 07, 2012:

I agree Keith, but this country provides gastric bands for people... I say have a blanket ban on things like that... Unless it is caused by a medical issue in the first place. Plus, they could keep costs low by banning cigarettes and alcohol, but they make far too much cash on that, so they target the fatties! Boooo! :(

Keith from Rural Tennessee on December 07, 2012:

If the government is paying for your health insurance, they will obviously do all they can to keep the costs low. The thing they have over insurance companies is they can make laws, insurance companies just lobby to implement laws. That really is the problem with government controlled or paid anything, you give up freedom for it, unless of course you are in the US. Here they will give you welfare, food stamps and medical coverage but require far less than the average employer will. By that I mean I have to be drug tested for my job, welfare recipients don't.

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on December 07, 2012:

This article is among 6 to be candidates for a rising star award, if you like it, please vote here! https://discover.hubpages.com/politics/... you just need to pick it from the list on the left hand side :) thanks everyone! :)

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on December 07, 2012:

I totally agree wba! It will get so much worse, and then we'll all be protesting like the people in Egypt, and bombs will go flying, and it will all be a disaster. Countries will be destroyed... over a cookie and a lazy sunday!!!

wba108@yahoo.com from upstate, NY on December 07, 2012:

A terrific question on the role of government in your Hub! I believe that the goal of a society should be to maximize the freedom to choice and to be as self governing as possible. When the state tells you what to do for your supposed good, guess what, their still telling you what to do? Or put another way, those who claim to rule based on the good of others, still in intend to rule! This is what is known as "soft tyranny" or "Mommy Fascism".

Lets take your example to another level, suppose the government decided that since exercise dramatically reduces health issues, that every citizen will be required to perform an hour of exercise 4 times per week or pay a fine. I think most people would object to that level of control but that's the direction they're headed!

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on November 09, 2012:

thanks!! I'v put a couple of things on pinterest in an effort to bring in readers, but I want to separate it from facebook and other social sites! Hopefully will get more hubbers stumbling across my page as the hub challenge progresses!

Infobrowser from UK on November 09, 2012:

Interesting points here.

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on November 09, 2012:

Your hub was great as it was. Another positive thing about it is that it sparked further discussion! Now lets get your hubs out there for others to see and appreciate! :)

Lynsey Hart (author) from Lanarkshire on November 09, 2012:

Oh, definitely. If kids had a choice, it would always be the bad one! I should have said in my hub, its the adults I'm talking about. Thanks for your comment :)

Randi Benlulu from Mesa, AZ on November 09, 2012:

I agree wholeheartedly. We should have freedom of choice. That being said, I think it is good to regulate school lunches and WIC programs. Great hub! well said! thank you!

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