Sometimes, it seems that the more warnings we read, the more dire the situation becomes. But, is it the fault of those who do the warning, or is it something else?
Obesity, as the issue of smoking was when I was a child, is the topic du jour. And, frankly, it is no wonder. Those who want to eat whatever they want, without regard to their health, are doing nothing different from those who continue to smoke tobacco, even with all the culture “noise” and health warnings that have been drummed into them.
It is, ultimately, a decision in which the “eater” has to consider the benefits, weigh them against the costs, and then, change his/her own behavior.
But, there are significant hurdles to overcome. Here are a few:
- The “pleasure” hurdle — the inability to deny ourselves the pleasure, fleeting as it may be, to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, and in the quantities we want. Self-denial and delayed gratification have become rare, and is bordering on extinction.
- The “peer pressure” hurdle — the desire not to be seen as “odd”, “difficult to please”, or “picky” when it comes to eating. Blending in to the culture, whether it be the mainstream or one of the countless countercultures, reigns supreme in our value system, and it takes its toll in many ways, including our health.
- The “procrastination” hurdle — as long as we have lived, to date, there has always been tomorrow. We may know the facts, when it comes to eating unhealthy foods, but we still have time to enjoy what we want with no immediate impact, we believe.
- The “health care” hurdle — With drug companies always offering newer and better drugs to counteract our unhealthy eating habits, we surrender our nutritional choices to pills. Also, doctors seem more hesitant than ever to prescribe lifestyle changes in lieu of drugs.
- The “convenience” hurdle — the preference not to put ourselves to any trouble, if we can avoid, and if we can afford it. Convenience foods, whether at a fast-food restaurant, or in convenient prepared meal packages at the supermarket, make life easier, or so it seems.
The warnings will continue, and they should. People will hear them, read them, and believe them, and at some time in the future, it may matter to them enough to do something to help themselves without depending on the health care system to do it for them. But, the hurdles will have to be jumped.
This article, “34% of Kids Eat Food on a Given Day, Study Says“, on time.com sorts out some of the facts and assumptions about childhood obesity and the “fast-food” component of the cultural problem.