Issue 18, Volume 85
Oct. 31, 2012
The rate of obesity across the globe is skyrocketing. Though the weight of the world’s obese typically rests of western shoulders, overall, the trend is increasing as
underdeveloped nations embrace practices of the more developed.
Emulation is not a bad thing, nor is it necessarily a good thing. It’s a fact, and you cannot stop it in its place. How to deal with obesity levels is a question being levied upon governments of all size and type. The question is more pressing to governments which provide a publicly funded healthcare system as the burden to provide support for the obese falls on all taxpaying citizens.
To deal with ballooning waistlines and inflating healthcare costs, the Ontario Medical Association has proposed that high caloric foods be accompanied by a
graphic picture of an ailing body part and a description of the potential health risks.
Does this sound familiar? It should. It’s the exact same tactic being used on tobacco packaging. It’s argued that this tactic works. It might work, but it also might not.
Education regarding the ails of tobacco use increased dramatically with the introduction of scare tactic packaging. So, it is hardly fair to attribute a decline in
tobacco use solely to the use of scare tactic packaging. What is needed is more poignant education regarding nutrition, food choices and overall healthy living habits.
Scaring citizens into not eating high caloric food simply will not work. Much like I have written before about tobacco packing, I suspect that the rate of people eating
high caloric food could indeed increase if such scare tactic packaging is employed.
Living in a democratic society breeds notions and tendencies of libertarianism. When the government attempts to impose its will upon its citizens, invariably, there will be a cohort who will actively and passionately reject the whims of those in power; regardless of how noble the intentions.
And indeed, the intentions are in the right place. An obese population taxes the workforce, drains capital from healthcare and overtaxes average citizens. Education, outreach and support are the tools to help overcome obesity.
We need the general citizenry to become educated on what they eat, and where their food comes from. We don’t need is scare tactic packaging. What we do need is proper labeling: accurate nutrition facts, expirations dates and whether or not the product is genetically modified.
Allow the consumer to make the healthy choice for his or herself, not because they were scared into it.
Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.