Sharing The Blame In Don’t Blame The Eater

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

A major concern in Americas health today is obesity which is one of the leading causes to other health issues. There are many questions to ask as to why obesity is so common now and why it is so difficult for Americans to lose the unwanted weight. Should consumers be taking accountability to the health choices they make, or should the food industry be held responsible for the cause of obesity in our country? What if the problem is what is sold in stores around town? There are many convenient stores in smaller neighborhoods then there is actual grocery stores and these convenient stores typically sell more junk items instead of fresh produce. This does sound like it could be a problem for Americans trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Americans do need to take some responsibility for their weight since they control what they eat and how much exercise they get, but the food industry and retailers should support Americans in the choice they make to become healthier.

In David Zinczenko’s article Don’t Blame the Eater he states at the end of the article, “Fast-food companies are marketing to children a product with proven health hazards and no warning labels. They would do well to protect themselves and their customer, by providing the nutrition information people need to make informed choices about their products.” Unlike Zinczenko, Radley Balko another writer who wrote the article What You Eat is Your Business, states in his article the opposite of what Zinczenko is saying he writes, “Instead of manipulating or intervening in the array of food options available to American consumers, our government ought to be working to foster a sense of responsibility in and ownership of our health and well-being.’ As a consumer would it make more sense to take the responsibility for what you are choosing to put into your body, or do you think the government and food industry should uphold some sort of responsibility on their part? Consumers are not choosing a healthier lifestyle they are electing to eat out and picking the unhealthier choice of foods instead of making a healthier meal at home. The wrong choice comes with consequences in any situation so what makes food choices any different?

For most Americans, the fastest and easiest option is fast food so rather than going to the grocery store and buying healthy ingredients for a healthy meal they decide to stop at the closest restaurant for a quick bite to eat. On the CDC website, people can find data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and on this survey, it shows from the dates ranging from 2013-2016, 36.6% of American adults consumed fast food on a given day. The data also explains that there are many different factors why people go with the fast-food route some factors may include time, financial resources, prices, and availability influence fast food consumptions. Zinczenko says in his article why he ended up eating fast food instead of a home-cooked meal was simply cause his mother’s long working hours. As he got older, he had gained excessive weight due to his eating habits but then he made the choice to join the Navy Reserves found himself interested in health magazines and figured out how to manage a healthier diet and health style. He is a good example of taking responsibility for falling into the habit of choosing an unhealthy lifestyle because of what he was raised on and decided to change that lifestyle into a healthier one. Yes cooking might take a little more time to provide a meal for someone and their family and it may seem easier to download an app or go online and have food delivered to the front step but the decision to pick that option is putting a quick high caloric meal before health and wellness.

According to Balko, ‘We’re becoming less responsible for our health, and more responsible for everyone else’s”. There have been many lawsuits against the fast-food industry causing the blame to be pointed at the retailer and nobody taking fault for deciding to eat the product. In the Pelman v. McDonald’s case, the main claim from the plaintiff was that “McDonald’s engaged in deceptive advertising, sales, and promotion; produced food that was unreasonably unsafe; and failed to warn consumers of the dangers of its products.” As a retailer, it is their job to sell their product and make a profit it is a business and a business needs to sell. The consumers job is to manage the amount of “fast food” they intake and not overdo the consumption of something that is an unhealthy fried and frozen food. Most foods that contain the vitamins and nutrients are fresh home foods. Not saying that it is not ok to indulge in some greasy fast food every once in a while, it should be common sense to not have the product for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. In the Pelman case, the lawsuit was on behalf of children who were fed too much McDonald’s products and allegedly became obese or overweight and ended up developing diseases such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and elevated cholesterol intake. The word choice used to say “who were fed” in the previous sentence was specifically used because children do not make the choice to purchase fast food, parents make the choice to not cook and they are the ones that drive to McDonald’s for a fast meal option and purchase a McDonald’s happy meal, not the child and there is power in the word no as a parent. Understandably, some parents work long hours as a parent who has little time there is still always time and a way to make food even if it is premade and set to warm up at a later time so can all the fault be placed on the manufacturer and retail businesses? The outcome of the Pelman v. McDonald’s case was eventually dismissed due to not enough supporting evidence proving that the fast-food industry should be held accountable for obesity-related health harms.

This case being dismissed is reasonable considering it involves children and parent are ultimately responsible for what their children consume. That can still pertain to what is being sold in convenience stores as well, parents walk in with their children and let them pick what they want to snack on instead of telling them to choose from the healthier options. Even adults that are always on the go are just stopping in stores for a quick snack or even a meal and the only options being given to them are the unhealthy items which can be more appealing than a small basket of fruit standing on the side of the counter.

Retailers say that there are many different food choices offered when walking into a store which is very much plausible. It is possible when walking into a produce store, consumers are given a wider variety of food options but say someone is going for a quick trip to a small convenient store what type of food is offered? Not enough food options are given in convenient stores especially not healthy ones. Olga Khazan the author of “Why Convenience Stores Sell Better Food”, talks about how these stores are on the corner throughout the city and larger produce stores are further out for these small rural neighborhoods.

Convenient stores account for a total of $650 billion in sales in the U.S according to the National Association of Convenience Stores website the store count in the U.S. is at about 153, 237 as of December of 2018 (NACS). Now imagine if all those stores carried healthier options for their customers there would probably be more people buying healthier items. Khazan believes that one way to change the way people eat is by luring in large grocery stores into the locations that produce more corner stores. Not everyone wants to go to a large produce store to grab some milk or a missing ingredient for their meals; it would seem more suitable for a corner to store to provide a better variety for produce. Statistics shown by The American Heart Association that 39.4 million Americans live over a mile away from a grocery store in urban areas and 10 miles away in rural areas and it goes on to say only 19 million of those people can’t afford to shop at those places because they or either low-income or have no source of transportation to get them there, which can also result into them eating out and finding something fast to eat (AHAN).

According to Khazan, it is expensive for a corner store owner to purchase a large amount of produce due to the produce going bad considering they would not sell as much as a large grocery store, and they wouldn’t be able to buy in bulk either since bulk items require a minimum order. Typically, when going into smaller stores the produce items are more expensive if they are buying from a local Costco which causes the prices to be higher then what people would see in a large grocery store. The result making the buyer go for the cheaper unhealthier food item instead of something better for their health. Many corner stores in the D.C. area are being offered in fresh produce in bulk at more convenient prices making it easier for smaller stores to sell fresh produce to customers giving them more of a variety of healthy foods at a reasonable price for the consumer but the owners to be able to make a profit as well (Khazan).

Healthy Corners is a program that strives to provide DC’s low-income areas with fresh produce and healthy snacks to corner stores to help these communities choose healthier items to eat at a more affordable price. This program should be one that should be used across the U.S. Thanks to healthy corners convenient stores can purchase these items at a lesser price instead of shopping at a local Costco store and having to sell their foods at a higher asking price. This program provides healthier items to 67 corner stores in DC and has sold 241,795 units of healthy snacks across these stores. (Healthy Corners) There should be more programs like this around the country striving to make it easier for Americans to have healthier snacks instead of persuading them into eating foods that cause diseases like diabetes, heart failure, and high cholesterol. Not only stores selling junk like Twinkies and sodas people will find that these small stores also sell hot foods like fried burritos, hot pockets, and pizza.

In an article called The Key to Attracting Health-Conscious Shoppers written by Renee M. Covino, she refers to how a big franchise like 7-Eleven is incorporating healthier items to many of their stores. They are providing items that customers are looking and asking for such as items that are span keto, paleo, vegan, organic, high-protein, low-glycemic, gluten-free, nutrient-dense, plan-based, and cold-pressed. (Covino) Customers were asking for these kinds of items and 7/11 Inc. heard them and listened to them and provided these items in their stores. There are many consumers from the ages of 18 and 34 that want to eat healthy snacks on the go these statistics are based off research done by youth marketing and millennial research and according to Covino’s article a Y-Pulse study showed that:

81% suggest it shouldn’t be too hard to eat healthily

76% are more likely to eat vegetables on the go

66% don’t mind paying extra for a healthier snack

If Americans are willing to pay a little extra to eat healthier items why not provide them in stores especially when they are asking for it. (Covino)

With all these different aspects and statistics shown, there are Americans who do choose to put their health first and want to eat healthier produce and foods. There needs to be a way to expand the growth of healthier foods across America and even though people are willing to pay higher prices for this it should still be affordable to everyone of all classes. People decide to eat unhealthier items because that is what’s provided to them at a low cost not everyone wants to pay the extra buck and not everyone can afford the extra buck either. Why should a cup of fruit cost anywhere from $2.50 to almost $5 to purchase but in the next isle over a bag of chips cost $1.50 and these average prices anyone can find in a 7/11 store. More Americans need to demand healthier products at a reasonable price because if corporations like 7/11 are hearing a portion of Americans and are making these items available maybe smaller stores will listen as well and together Americans can get the prices dropped and more healthy foods and produce added into convenience stores across America.

When deciding to eat or purchase any kind of food items are Americans watching what they purchase do they go as far as to checking labels and reading what is being put into the food that they are consuming? There are many items that are sold in large stores and smaller stores that are processed and do not benefit anybody’s health but yet they still purchase these items. Even when you see an item that looks like it would be healthy it is still possible that there are no nutritional values to it.

Being that processed foods are sold everywhere and made convenient to everyone, of course, it is the faster option for people like the working single parent with little time to cook or an everyday parent just making it an option for the kids after school snack. Yes, checking labels and doing research to what is put into foods is time-consuming, but shouldn’t the people want to know what is being put into the foods being eaten? There have been studies that have shown that a 10% increase in consumption of processed food was associated with a 12% larger risk for cancer. Even eating too many sugars, sodium, and fats can lead to health issues such as obesity, heart disease, blood pressure problems, and possible diabetes. There are many cons to eating these types of processed foods which makes more sense to read what is being put into everyone’s bodies and maybe finally make the decision to stick with the healthier organic route. Should the average American be okay with taking that risk of enabling an unhealthy diet within their own family or should they take initiative and watch what is being put into their diets?

There are articles online that you can find that do share the positives of eating processed food, but you are more likely to find the negatives and studies showing how it is not healthy for consumers. On eatright.org there is a list that provides benefits from these foods things like added fiber or foods that are more nutrient-dense, but it also explains the different scales of how processed they are. Items like milk and juices might provide nutrients to someone who is lacking calcium and vitamin D but no matter how many benefits research by the consumer still needs to be done to know what is being consumed whether good or bad. There is still plenty of negatives to eating processed food because of all the extra added ingredients that make processed foods just that, processed. Pollan states in Escape from the Western Diet “People eating a western diet are prone to a complex of chronic diseases that seldom strike people eating more traditional diets” so regardless knowing all the consequences everyone still chooses the Western Diet. Items like sugars are added manually into processed foods, especially low-fat foods to give it a more appealing taste for examples you can find added sugars in bread, jarred pasta sauces, and cereal foods that are used often. Large consumptions of added sugars can lead to obesity, acne and to other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, increase your risk of cancer, and even impact your dental health. Do the research and learn anyone can avoid the chronic outcomes from the western diet.

Michael Pollan makes a valid point when he says, “the health of the soil to the health of the plants and animals we eat to the health of the food culture in which we eat them to the health of the eater, in the body as mind as well.’ Meaning that everything is a chain reaction he describes it as being linked together. For instance, some farmers do indeed use hormones and steroids on poultry and livestock to increase the growth of livestock but the hormones can also cause a higher rate of hormone-dependent cancers as read in Melissa Kravitz article Organic meat vs. non-organic meat: What does paying more buy you? In Kravitz article she also quotes Kelly Hogan a clinical nutrition, “The concern with conventional beef is the risk that cows may be given growth hormones to increase milk production in dairy cows or speed up and increase the size of vows that will go to slaughter for beef,” which goes to prove that even dairy contains these dangerous hormones and the consumers are still placing these products in their bodies and not all labels are telling you what is being fed to the livestock and poultry. Kravitz also references to the information given to her by Hogan how even though studies are inconclusive on how humans can absorb the hormones in these products she still suggests to avoid them is to eat organically raised cows. Even in chickens who are given antibiotics can be preserved and people consume those chickens which can cause antibiotic resistance.

GMOs are genetically modified organisms which are modified with transgenic techniques. This means that living organisms that are artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering. Contamination can occur and has occurred between 1997 and 2013 in 63 countries. Consuming GMOs can affect people and doctors urge prescribed non-GMO diets for their patients as well. In Jeffrey Smiths article 10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs, he refers to an animal study that shows there is organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and even infertility. When the study is done on people, he explains material can be left behind inside of the human body causes long-term problems.

Pollan proposes three rules, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants,” he says that each rule serves as a personal policy. What Pollan can be trying set as a rule is to still eat food and don’t be scared to eat, but make sure what you are eating is going to benefit you in the long run and not damage your health. He’s trying to get his readers to take better care of their health by researching what they are putting into their bodies and by simply saying now to processed foods genetically modified foods and eating organic. So, in conclusion, what is best for consumers? What should they choose to do? Will they take care of their health better and pay attention to the products they are purchasing, and will they choose to feed these foods to their family? Better health should always be the correct choice and The Western Diet should be left behind in the past.

With all the information both parties should take some accountability for the issue in America and the large obesity problem that Americans are suffering from adults and children both. More people should make themselves responsible for what they are consuming and maybe if more people take their weight into consideration more retailers and large companies will take notice and help Americans change. There needs to be change in America the first step should be with the people taking accountability in their physical health and their food consumption then more stores including convenience stores could possibly sell fresh produce. More programs like Healthy Corners may develop and large chains of convenience stores may choose to make healthy more convenient.  

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