Maybe it was the overweight 2 year old kid the in the grocery store with the half eaten cream filled donut hanging out of his mouth while his parents munched on an open container of Pringles. Or better yet, maybe it was the McDonald’s commercials during the Summer Olympics that reminded me how ass backwards this country is when it comes to fast food, nutrition, obesity and healthy choices. For years, people blamed the smoking community for weighing down the healthcare system, but in recent times, it has become abhorrently clear that the obesity epidemic in this country is tipping the scales of how we are mass marketed towards as a society.
The US has always been the cultural trendsetter of the world. Our fashions, our, sayings, our music, or labels, our look, our capitalism, our ability to be so successful as a nation in everything, made us the cutting edge country that everyone admired and wanted to mirror. That is until we started to get fat and we allowed the FDA to make decisions about our food supply, and allowed companies like McDonald’s to mass market their addictive, low priced, high saturated fats, high sugar food to Americans everywhere. And we the people took a big fat juicy bite into this illusory toxicity and haven’t let go. Americans are sordidly overweight. And let’s face it, it’s a choice, we choose to put this crap in our mouths and our children’s mouths. We teach our kids to not steal, fight, or lie, yet we are telling them it is ok to put that heart stopping, artery clogging cheeseburger and french fries in their innocent, uneducated mouths and we do it so much, we have created an epidemic. But hey if Olympians are doing it, why can’t we right? This kind of marketing is ludicrous to me and is alarmingly too parallel to what the tobacco industry was getting away with before they were told they couldn’t promote their life-threatening products anymore. See the similarity yet? Think back to the days of the Marlboro Man and Camel Jo advertisements, I’m 36 and I remember these advertisements as a kid. They made cigarettes appear so curiously cool, fun, interesting, sexy and chic. Little did we know the abhorrent substances that these little cancer sticks were pumped with and in the end, making them some of the most addictive substances on the planet now alongside fast food and heroine.
So, here’s the problem, we can’t blame marketing wholly for efficaciously making our society morbidly obese, there is some accountability that needs to be taken by the individual. Yes marketing was effective, but it is only effective to an extent. Even with the addictiveness of fast food, it is still a choice, and we know that it is wrong to do this to our bodies right? So when did we become so complacent as a society? The US has become a “now” nation, we want it now, we want it fast and we want it as contemptible as possible and this philosophy is applied to everything. Just as swiftly can we ascertain that the things we put in our bodies have a unconstructive or affirmative response to our entire being we are just as quickly to disregard.
As a nation we have become fat, and in spirit of this obesity, this has become adequate. If someone told you to not put something in your mouth because it will blow up and you will die, do you think most people would stop, think and continue to do it? Almost certainly! It’s beyond me to think that as a society who was once the trendsetters for all things in global culture, we have now embraced this unacceptable overweight epidemic. And so do the shopping industry, television programs, and movie industry. Plus sized clothing can now be found everywhere. Before it was complicated to find stylish clothes for the overweight person, now it is everywhere. We are inundated as a society that big is beautiful, but what does that tell our kids and the rest of the world? Being overweight is suitable and you are beautiful no matter what condition your heart is in! The diabetic statistics are staggering! If you look at our society from 30 years ago to today the amount of individual that are stricken with Type II diabetes is profound. In 1982, 5.7 million Americans were diagnosed with Diabetes, in 2011, 37.7 million people are affected by Diabetes, that’s 10.1% of the 481 million population! However, when you look at Europe for instance for the exact same reasons, their numbers are vastly different. With a population of 900 million, 52.6 million Europeans, are affected by diabetes. Double the population yet the numbers are only about 13 million under ours. Staggering difference.
If you look at this from a purely effectual marketing angle, the US wins, unfortunately. We win the gold medal for de-education, misleading advertising, and a deceptive FDA that has allowed GMO, fast food and processed foods into our homes, diets, bodies and didn’t inform us about the reality behind the barrage of chemicals we have now become so addicted to. And even though cigarette commercials have been forbidden in the US since 1971, fast food and alcohol ads are still permitted, rather contradictory if you ask me. However, in Europe countries such as France disallow such commercials for tobacco, alcohol, fast food and pharmaceutical products. In Denmark, one of the world’s healthiest countries, advertising on television is non-existent for everything, they enforce a ban on all food products containing trans-fat and in 2009 Denmark implemented a “fat” tax on any food products containing saturated fat. Because of the muscle of larger food companies such as Nestle, after a year, Denmark skated away from their “fat tax” even after a 250 million dollar gain. Denmark is now focusing on taxing products with high sugar count, which is a more constructive approach in the scheme of things.
In the end though, we have to take some responsibility and be mindful for our own situations. We are what we eat! We can fault advertising for assisting us in constructing these exceedingly noxious lifestyles we live. Regardless, advertisers are just doing their job, it is our choice to consume and put these things in our mouths and devastate our bodies. It is our decision to not educate ourselves/children about suitable nutrition and appropriate diet, no matter how common sense this seem, it is still something that has to be learned or taught. It is our choice to not exercise, and not take care our physical beings as well as our mental health. These are all choices, unforgiveable choices we make everyday. So what is it going to take? A fat tax? Abolishment of advertisement? Taxes always seem to get a person motivated that is for sure. The government taxes the hell out of cigarettes, as they should, but what about food, why is this left out of the larger scheme of all things regarding our health as a nation and individual. It makes me sad to think that now Americans have continued the legacy of the trendsetting, but now it is on a level of total pretense. We are setting the fashion for lowered standards and showing the world how to become the unhealthiest country on the planet. But it doesn’t have to be like this, we can end this vicious cycle by taking charge of our lives, our country and demand food companies to reveal their stripes, just like the tobacco industry had to. We can make a choice to eat healthy, make healthy choices and teach our future generations how to do the same thing. Be happy that you have a choice to make that decision and take pride in showing your children the success in our health is the greatest gift we can ever give ourselves!