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Obesity in America

Joseph Saah Cameron Mozafari English 101, Section 0603 16 November 2011 Considering another Side Essay Growing obesity rates among our adolescent population has become an increasing problem over the past decade. While pressure has been placed on government agencies to limit the amount of advertisements that adolescents are exposed to, these efforts might be futile due to constitutional limitations. The issue that is increasingly brought to the attention of the public is how to balance regulation of the informational environment to help reduce child obesity versus the First Amendment’s guaranty of freedom of speech.

However, the roots of the obesity epidemic can be traced to more fundamental environmental factors. The obesity epidemic must be addressed by parents who are ultimately responsible for their child’s health and well-being because fast food companies cannot be faulted or penalized for marketing food that children want to buy. Due to rising obesity rates coupled with the legislative stalemate involved with banning advertisements, parents should play a more active role in the health of their child.

Parents can achieve this by influencing micro environmental factors such as dietary preferences and attitude toward advertising, and macro environmental factors, such as maintaining a supportive surrounding environment. Parents must address food preference early enough to ensure a proper balanced diet for their children. Although an individual has innate food preferences, dietary habits are learned and mirrored through those of the family, and more specifically, the parents.

At a young age, children consume a majority of meals bought and prepared by their parents. This can have a positive or negative outcome because parents make uninformed decisions regarding the types of food they buy for their children. The availability of junk food plays a major role in an individual’s daily caloric intake. Consistent purchasing of junk food will inevitably cause children to become accustomed to the taste, leading to preference of these snacks over healthier substitutes.

This is crucial because young children do not know why they dislike green beans or carrots, nor do they consider the consequences of their decisions on the future. In fact, since learned behaviors are adopted through role modeling by parents; if parents overeat, then children are likely to follow this pattern. While some might hold the belief that advertisers combat parent’s efforts to keep their kids healthy, simple steps that are fully within parental control can be taken to reduce a child’s risk of obesity.

Barbara Livingstone, a medical researcher, claims that “cross-sectional studies have reported that children and adolescents who regularly eat dinner with family members are significantly less likely to be overweight and more likely to have healthier eating habits, compared with those who eat less regularly with the family”(2). This cause and effect relationship is especially important to children because, at a young age, food preference changes with the experiences.

If an individual develops bad eating habits at a young age, there is a greater chance that these habits will persist into the teenage and early adult years. In terms of dietary habits, advertising agencies have a minimal effect on fast food consumption in comparison to the parents who supply the meals. The task of shaping a child’s dietary preference may be challenging for parents who lack the necessary knowledge to promote a healthy diet.

Parent’s lack of information regarding a healthy diet serves as a major barrier of progress regarding the rising obesity rates among children. As a parent, personally maintaining a healthy diet is not enough to fully prevent their child’s risk for obesity. Parents must take the extra step by communicating to their children the real message that advertisers are trying to get across and the true dangers that can become prevalent if unhealthy habits continue into the early teenage years.

Hyunjae Yu, a South Korean communications analyst, conducted a study on the influence of parental communication on obesity. Yu claims that “If parents can spend time together with their children when the children watch television, the parents could not only explain why it is necessary to avoid the advertised food products to maintain a healthy weight but also instruct them about how advertisements can have negative consequences on consuming snack/fast-food products” (16).

Although this is an idealized situation, more practical means of informing our adolescent population of the dangers of fast food need to be considered. In view of the fact that fast food industries effectively defend their rights to free speech, the government should explore other channels to spread awareness to the general public. In other words, instead of trying to directly put an end to fast food advertising, we should rather generate more effective solutions, outside of ad-banning, to put an end to the obesity epidemic.

Mandatory, government funded dietary and nutrition programs in school should be heavily considered as a means of keeping adolescents more aware of the dangers of obesity. Advertising media can also serve as a valuable tool for increasing the amount of information that is channeled to parents. In Amanda Willette’s article in the Journal of Legal Medicine, she considers the impact that media can have in terms of increasing awareness of obesity when she states, “Government action could be engaged to influence parents to make healthy food choices.

Such public service addresses are already a staple of public media” (Willette). The more informed the public is, the more capable the public will be to make responsible decisions, the more results will be seen in the decrease in obesity rates. Although not all meals are eaten at the dinner table, a supportive environment is equally necessary to maintain healthy habits outside of the household. Supportive environments are those that enable a healthy lifestyle to be attained (Ben-Sefer).

In the everyday child’s environment, a major factor of obesity that is commonly overlooked is the amount of physical activity than an individual engages in. This is a major premise that needs to be addressed in our attempts to limit obesity in our next generation. The more time an individual spends in front of the television, the less time that person could spend exercising and burning extra calories. Parents should encourage their children to watch less television and engage in sports or extracurricular activities at school instead.

Hyunjae Yu reaffirms this correlation when he states “A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits are both frequently discussed as being among the main causes of childhood obesity in the United States” (Yu). Being one of the main causes of obesity in the United States, parents should support and participate in physical activities with their child to reduce their chance of become obese. This also involves parents giving confidence to their child to remain active and maintain a high self-esteem so that their environment continues supporting a healthy lifestyle.

The efforts of parents go a long way, but when the child is outside the family environment it is the responsibility of health workers and teachers to communicate similar views of the healthy individual. Although parents may have less of an influence in physical activity and calorie consumption at school, teachers and students should be positively influencing one another to maintain a healthy diet while remaining physically active. If public policy makers can make the causes of obesity clear to the population, these behaviors can be isolated and eliminated to be replaced by healthier habits.

Instead of regulating the food industry as a whole, the government should put fourth greater effort to maintaining a more informed population. Thus far, attempts to regulate advertisements through legislation have proved unsuccessful; providing evidence that the primary solution to the obesity epidemic lies within the home and school environments (Willette). Government agencies should increase funding to create more programs within schools that would begin when the child enters the school system that focuses on nutrition, exercise, and educating children about food choices.

Alongside the implementation of these programs, the government should continue addressing the responsibility of the parent by stressing the importance of positive influences on a child’s dietary and physical habits. By starting at a young age, parents can prevent children from becoming familiar with the taste of junk food, thus putting an end to an unhealthy habit before it begins. However, at a certain age, adolescents must begin to understand the underlying message of advertisements of their favorite fast food restaurant.

With experience comes an increase in knowledge regarding the components of a healthy diet, an increase in maturity, and a greater ability to make informed decisions regarding their own health. Rhetorical Triangle The context that I am discussing in this essay is the importance of parental influence on childhood obesity. Recently, advertisements have been targeted as a major source of causing obesity, but this statement is being refuted through research on effects of parental communication with their children regarding advertising and dietary habits.

The logos, or argument, of my essay is that parents have a profound effect on the probability of a child becoming obese by influencing environmental factors such as dietary habits and preferences, attitudes toward advertising, and amount of physical activity an individual engages in. With the lack of progress seen through banning of advertisements, the influence of parents is of utmost importance when trying to slow the rising rates of obesity. Since dietary habits and attitudes toward advertising can be effectively shaped by parents when the child is young, it is their responsibility to do so in order to reduce the child’s risk for obesity.

The ethos, or credibility, of my argument can be seen through considering the other side of the argument in respect to my own views. While many believe that banning advertisements can directly solve the obesity epidemic, it has been proved that this method is less efficient in comparison to parental influence in the family environment. Ethos can also be observed through the sources that my information is compiled from. These sources range from academic articles in the American Journal of Public Health to the Journal of Legal Medicine.

They not only use research and experiments to justify their findings, but they explore into their findings to draw conclusions that promote a specific course of action. Since I’m imitating the style and voice of Amanda Willette in her article in the Journal of Legal Medicine, the pathos, or discourse community that are being addressing in this essay is medical professionals who are also trying to establish a direct link to the causes of obesity alongside determining how to prevent obesity in the adolescent years.

Public policy and law makers are also a part of this discourse community because they have the institutional power to enact regulations over fast food advertisements as well as enforcing mandatory health programs in schools that would inform children throughout their adolescent years of the potential dangers that surround overconsumption of fast food. Although parents are not usually apart of this discourse community, parents are addressed in the essay as being the obvious solution to slowing the obesity epidemic as a result of findings by medical professionals.

This brings parents into the audience invoked portion of this paper because parents should take more responsibility when it comes to health of their children. Works Consulted Anzman, S. L. , B. Y. Rollins, and L. L. Birch. “Parental Influence On Children’s Early EatingEnvironments And Obesity Risk: Implications For Prevention. ” International Journal OfObesity 34. 7 (2010): 1116-1124. Academic Search Premier. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. Balko, Radley. “Banning Fast-Food Advertising Would Not Reduce Childhood Obesity. ”Gale Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Greenhaven Press, 2 Mar. 2005. Web. Ben-Sefer, E. , M.

Ben-Natan, and M. Ehrenfeld. “Childhood obesity: current literature,policy and implications for practice. ” International Nursing Review 56. 2 (2009): 166173. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. Clemmitt, Marcia. “Rising Health Costs. ” CQ Researcher, 16. 13 (2006) 289-312. Print. Cornwell, T. Bettina, and Anna R. McAlister. “Alternative thinking about starting points ofobesity. Development of child taste preferences. ” Appetite 56. 2 (2011): 428-439. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. Greenblatt, Alan. “Obesity Epidemic: Can Americans change their self-destructive habits? ” CQResearcher, 13. (2003): 73-104. Print. Harker, Debra, Michael Harker, and Stuart Svensen. “Attributing Blame: Exploring the LinkBetween Fast Food Advertising and Obesity in Australia. ” Journal of Food ProductsMarketing 13. 2 (2007): 33-46. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. Henderson, Julie. And John Conveney, “Governing Childhood Obesity: Framing regulations of fastfood advertising in the Australian print media. ” Social Science & Medicine, 69. 9 (2009): 14021408. Hyunjae, Yu. “Parental Communication Style’s Impact on Children’s Attitudes TowardObesity and Food Advertising. ” Journal of Consumer Affairs 45. (2011): 87-107. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. Keller, Simone K. , and Peter J. Schulz. “Distorted food pyramids in kid’s prgrammes: A contentanalysis of television advertising watched in Switzerland. ” European Journal of Public Health21. 3 (2010): 300-305. Print. Livingstone, Barbara E. “Dietary Determinants of Childhood Obesity: The Role of theFamily. “Current Medical Literature: Pediatrics 20. 4 (2007): 89-94. Academic SearchPremier. EBSCO. Web. “Parents Share Blame For Obese Children. ” Television Week 29 Jan. 2007: 11. AcademicSearch Premier. EBSCO. Web. Strasburger, Victor C. Policy Statement-Children, Adolescents, Obesity, and theMedia. ”Pediatrics 128. 1 (2011) 201-208. Print. Tortolero, Susan R. “Influences of Physical and Social Neighborhood Environments onChildren’s Physical Activity and Obesity. ” American Journal of Public Health 99. 2(2009): 271-278. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. Wood, Douglas J. “Anti-ad crusaders miss point. ” Advertising Age 75. 15 (2004): 30. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. Willette, Amanda L. “Where Have All the Parents Gone? Do Efforts to Regulate FoodAdvertising to Curb Childhood Obesity Pass Constitutional

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