It is a well-known fact that authorities and governments around the world attempt to discover more methods of influencing people’s daily habits. The government’s intervention is evident in many ways, which is necessary since people have proved unable to maintain healthy diets on their own. Presently, they control the availability of junk food people can access, using taxpayer’s money to regulate the portion sizes, salt, calorie fats, sugar, and other nutritional aspects of the consumed food. Almost all public organizations are under watch by the government regarding the diets and eating habits of their employees. To ease the burden of healthcare, the government needs to guide and direct the people on proper eating habits and nutritional choices, providing them with information and opportunities to make healthy choices.
At first it should be noticed that obesity is on the rise, causing early deaths to many people, including women and children. In the report provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the state of obesity, statistical evidence has shown more than a third of adults (34.9 %) were obese as of 2011 to 2012 (Levi, Segal, Rayburn, & Martin, 2015). Moreover, 68.6% of adults were either overweight or obese (Levi et al., 2015). In addition to the obesity in adults, obesity in children has increased at a high rate. Statistical analysis of child obesity by the CDC claims that “In 2011-2012, obesity in 2- to 5-year-olds had a prevalence of 8.4% while that of 6 to 11 year-olds was 17.7% and 20.5% of 12- to 19-year-olds” (Levi et al., 2015).
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To curb the growing obesity epidemic, the government needs to regulate the global fast food market on burgers, chips, and fizzy drinks. Firmer actions by the government would prevent people from developing health conditions with serious long-term consequences like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It should be noted that out of 29 experts participated in a poll on whether the government should regulate the portions, 20 (70%) disagreed on this regulation, with only six submitting to it (The Greatist Team, 2013). They argued that it was the task of the vendor to educate the buyer on the healthy choices and neither a right nor a responsibility of the government. However, the populace in the developed nations has government policies influencing their nutrition and diet. The pressures exerted by food companies determine the government policies and individual consumption behavior (Nestle and Wilson, 2012).
Increasing the prices for unhealthy foods through taxes serves to discourage their consumption and reduce the risk caused by intake of the high sugar and fat content. Evidence from the existing taxes on food and beverages has shown positive results in reducing their consumption, but the long-term effects on the population health are yet to be evaluated (Cornelsen & Carreido, 2015). Additionally, changing individual behavior is a decision, leaning on the presence of an enabling environment for making the healthy choice the easier one (Bakst, 2013). The regulations may also aim at reducing the proportions of the unhealthy food served in a bid to reduce the amount consumed. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) have called for the population diet intervention to improve diet while targeting the reduction of non-communicable diseases (Niebylski, Redburn, Duhaney, & Campbell, 2015). Among the proposed solutions was offering subsidies to the healthy foods while increasing taxation on the unhealthy ones. Food insecurity among the poor is one of the factors causing junk consumption. Subsidizing the healthy foods will make them affordable to the poor and a better preference. This will reduce the risk of NCDs among the poor thus improving their living standards.
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Nutritionists have a crucial role in offering nutritional advice to the state’s population. They have scientific information about the nutrients required by humans at each stage of development, and their advice is crucial in adopting good eating habits and nutritional choices. People and, especially the teenagers and college students need help for them to make informed nutritional choices. The major targets of the companies producing sugary foods are high schools and colleges that are full of the students uninformed on the harm of such foods (Nestle & Wilson, 2012). Employing nutritional specialists will enhance giving the correct information to the consumers. Government policies should direct the food outlets to produce nutritional guides and circulate them through means reachable to the students to enable them to make informed decisions on their diets. Provision of such nutritional information and proper labeling need to be handled professionally by nutrition professionals.
Moreover, it is the responsibility of the industry to issue statements that are of concern to the public welfare and assert the public of food safety. Additionally, the marketing of food for children is among the most important issues the industry should address (Sharma, Teret, & Brownell, 2010). Children have little capacity in making nutritional decisions, and it is the mandate of the food companies to ensure that they offer proper diets to the children and reduce the number of unhealthy products. The labelling of food should be done responsibly on the correct ingredients to help people make proper decisions. The companies should provide the customers with more access to the healthy foods, creating public awareness of the nutritional value attached to each package. However, these outlets cannot be trusted as more often than not they label the components used in the preparation of the delicacies inappropriately. High competition in the industry also compromises on the quality of products offered. Therefore, it is appropriate for the government to enact regulations to enable fair competition in the food industry while maintaining a healthy population.
Every person living needs to develop a healthy eating plan to respond to the rising incidences of obesity and chronic illnesses. Previously, health conditions like the coronary artery disease, diabetes, ischemic strokes, and cancer were experienced only in the high-income countries. However, the dramatic increase in the rate of cancer and cardiovascular diseases among the migrants from the low to high-income countries has been associated with environmental factors, diet, and lifestyle (Willett et al., 2006). Emotional, physical, and cognitive health is tied to the nutritional value and individual eating habits. The importance of healthy growth and nutritional content needed for the body to grow well depend on the food minerals and vitamins (“Nutrition”, 2016). However, maintaining healthy eating habits is difficult and requires high discipline and commitment. Efforts by the government to help the individual achieve proper dieting and access the food of the necessary nutritional value can contribute to maintaining the health of the population.
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In conclusion, most people have failed in their personal responsibilities of taking healthy foods. Poor eating habits have resulted in the consumption of low nutrient foods, causing a rise in the non-communicable diseases among the population. The result is a high cost of healthcare and high rate of obesity and mortality among children and women. The food industry needs to embrace professionalism and employ professional nutritionists to be able to educate people on the nutritional content they need. They can provide accurate information for the informed decision-making. The government should raise tax for the junk foods to discourage their consumption while subsidizing healthy foods to make them the better choice. Ensuring the availability of the healthy alternatives and making sure that consumers receive correct and adequate knowledge for decision-making is a collective responsibility that involves the government. People should choose to eat healthy to avoid the lifestyle illnesses and remain productive for the better part of their lives. Healthy eating habits will also reduce the government’s health expenditure.