No one likes to be told what they can and cannot eat. Food is one of the key personal freedoms, but should it be? As the world struggles with an increasing obesity rate and overburdened health care systems, it seems at times like we are our own worst enemy.
Governments around the world regulate the sales of alcohol, tobacco, and, increasingly, recreational marijuana. Some have also instituted “soda taxes” that increase the cost of pop in order to encourage people to choose healthier alternatives. However, there has been no concentrated effort to extend such a plan to junk food as a whole.
Given that this segment of the food industry is quite substantial, any such plan would immediately run afoul of the many lobbyists employed to represent the major companies involved.
However, groups like the World Health Organization are becomingly increasingly vocal in their attempts to get governments more involved in addressing the problem. It’s tough to argue from a financial perspective: decreasing the number of people with chronic health issues brought about by poor lifestyle choices will also dramatically decrease the amount of money countries must direct towards healthcare.
That argument for action has suggestions on how to make this economically viable, like providing financial incentives for those involved in the production of healthy foods. They also advise other measures, such as tightening the regulation of fast food advertising aimed at children, and making it less profitable for companies that focus their means of production on unhealthy, highly processed foods.
These are encouraging ideas and one hopes they will increasingly come into play around the world. In the meantime, however, education seems to be the best choice. Helping people to fully realize the risks that a bacon double cheeseburger has on their well-being might encourage more consumers to think twice.