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Major Essay: Obesity Discussion, David Zinczenko’s “Don’t Blame the Eater”

Many people think that obesity in America is a conspiracy. There is something deeper going on here that ultimately leads to huge amounts of profits and many unhealthy Americans. When it comes to obesity people, feel that it’s not their fault that obesity has taken over their lives, but it all has to do with the corporations. Obesity has become an epidemic and an important public health concern. Because the problem is multidimensional, the solution requires an interdisciplinary approach involving the cooperation of the food industry with other stakeholders, such as the government and health care providers. The consumer is an important player in the solution to obesity because the consumer can make healthy lifestyle choices at the individual level.

Fast food, soda, hot dogs and other high-calorie food products like potato chips and sugary cereals are ubiquitous and cheap in the U.S. dietary landscape. Unfortunately, most are also nutritionally empty. To prevent overweight and obesity, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends a nutritious diet that follows the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General also advocates that adults get 30 minutes of exercise most days and children a full hour. Easy ways to incorporate more physical exercise include taking the stairs instead of the elevator, using a push mower instead of a power mower and parking the car at the far end of a store’s lot to get in more steps. In addition, encourage children to play outside instead of watching TV after school.

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David Zinczenko makes considerable points about the health effects of obesity. Zinczenko talks about diabetes and how it has been such an issue with its high rise. He points out that diabetes has risen since 1994; that it has risen 25%. From what he’s saying, I can understand that obesity has surely grown, and it has cost a major toll on many Americans. Currently, more than 65% of Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity is correlated with several medical conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Obesity and its related diseases are responsible for 400,000 deaths per year in the United States, paralleling the number of preventable deaths caused by smoking.

One of Zinczenko’s strongest arguments is how corporations use advertisements to lure in consumers. He describes young people as being the ones targeted by these advertisements, and it happens with them just driving down the street and finding one of the 13,000 McDonalds across America. A team of public health researchers from Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity spent more than a year compiling data on 12 of the nation’s big fast-food restaurants, and what they found surprised even them: despite industry efforts to reduce marketing aimed at children, fast-food advertising geared toward 2-to-18-year-olds increased.

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The research focused on menu composition, external advertising, in-store marketing and consumer behavior for McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, KFC, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, Sonic, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. The marketing seems to be working: a whopping 40% of parents reported that their child asked to go to McDonald’s at least once a week, and 15% of preschoolers’ parents said they fielded such a request every day. Moreover, most parents gave in: 84% reported bringing their 2-to-11-year-olds to a fast food restaurant within the previous week. Eating fast food has pretty much become routine for many families, the researchers found. One-third of children and teens reported consuming fast food at least once a week, and 16% to 17% of adolescents’ caloric intake came from fast-food restaurants.

Since about 1990, the number of obese adults has increased substantially in the United States. As of 2009, at least 25 percent of the residents in each of 33 states were obese. Of these states, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia were the least healthy, with 30 percent or more of their populations qualifying as obese. Washington, D.C., and the state of Colorado are the only two regions of the United States where obesity’s prevalence is less than 20 percent of the population. Parents and caregivers can help prevent childhood obesity by providing healthy meals and snacks, daily physical activity, and nutrition education. Healthy meals and snacks provide nutrition for growing bodies while modelling healthy eating behavior and attitudes.

Increased physical activity reduces health risks and helps weight management. In addition, nutrition education helps young children develop an awareness of good nutrition and healthy eating habits for a lifetime. The most important strategies for preventing obesity are healthy eating behaviors, regular physical activity, and reduced sedentary activity (watching television and videotapes and playing video games). These preventative strategies are part of a healthy lifestyle that should be developed during early childhood. They can be accomplished by following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines provide general diet and lifestyle recommendations for healthy Americans and promote health and reduce the risk for chronic diseases.

David Zinczenko’s argument about fast-food corporations misleading consumers by not effectively writing warning labels on their products is compelling. Zinczenko states, “The lack of information about what, exactly, we’re consuming” (154). This is compelling because it shows that corporations are engaging in deceiving tactics by selling their products but not even writing accurately what types of ingredients they contain or how many calories people consume every time they eat the food. You have to remember that this food is processed, so it would be smart to understand what you’re eating and if it’s even good for your health. He talks about fast food not having calorie charts as grocery items display them. This has changed recently; corporations must now inform the consumers of the caloric content that their product contains.

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It makes sense to do this, but corporations found a way to circumvent the rules by not properly listing the ingredients. One of the most common tricks that corporations use is distributing sugars among many ingredients so that sugars don’t appear in the top three. For example, a manufacturer may use a combination of sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, brown sugar, dextrose and other sugar ingredients to make sure none of them are present in large enough quantities to attain a top position on the ingredients list.

I believe that the government should regulate more fast-food corporations; by doing so, they will control and suppress the mischievous ways that the corporations have engaged in. Tougher Legislation by the federal government is necessary to stop the situation from getting worse. The federal government should do something through its policies to solve the obesity problem. Consumers have a right to expect that the foods they purchase and consume will be safe and high-quality. The burden of solving the obesity problem must fall not only on the government and individuals but also on the community. The CDC recommends that communities make fresh fruit and vegetable stands available at workplaces instead of vending machines carrying high-fat, empty-calorie snacks.

Nutritionist Isobel R. Contento reports on the success of programs that connect schools with local farms, which supply fresh produce for the school menu or stock cafeteria salad bars. One study, notes Contento, saw a 200 percent increase in sales of carrots in a school cafeteria when prices were lowered 50 percent. In another study, raising the price of higher-fat cafeteria options boosted sales of more nutritious items. Consumers are the most important player in the solution to the obesity epidemic because they make individualized choices about food and lifestyle. If the consumer can be influenced by comprehensible nutrition information and a variety of healthy food choices, perhaps individuals can begin to address weight gain on a personal level.

In addition to cultural and psychological influences, four motivators have been identified that affect consumer decisions: taste, quality, convenience, and price. There exists a gap between consumer attitude and behavior that the food industry must consider. Moreover, consumers are confused with the conflicting messages regarding fat, carbohydrates, protein, and calories. Consumers need clarity and reliable nutrition information to make responsible dietary decisions. In conclusion, it seems that we will have to reassess our entire lifestyle to avoid the problems associated with obesity. Despite restrictive diets and tempting advertisements, most of us instinctively understand good common-sense eating. However, we have to combine this with more activity and new insights into the importance of good health. If we do not take action soon, we may find ourselves paying a heavy price.

Works Cited

  • Perner, Lars, Ph.D. The University of Southern California. “Consumer Behavior.” Food Marketing, Consumption, and Manufacturing. Los Angeles, CA. 10 Jul. 2008. Web. 26 Apr.2012 < > This article discusses the general marketing approaches and techniques applied in many kinds of products, speedy food. It treats topics such as test marketing, segmentation, positioning, branding, targeting, consumer research, and market entry strategy that corporations lure in consumers.
  • Nwazota, Kristina. PBS “Obesity edging smoking as No. 1 preventable killer of Americans.” Public Broadcasting Service, McNeil-Lehrer Productions, 15 March. 2004. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <> In this article, the focus point is the problem of obesity and smoking tobacco in the U.S. it states that obesity is surpassing cigarette smoking as the No. 1 preventable killer. It also explains efforts made by the government to combat obesity.
  • Harris, Jennifer L. Ph.D., M.B.A., Schwartz, Marlene B. Ph.D., Brownell, Kelly D. Ph.D. Yale Rudd Center “Fast Food FACTS.” Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, 3 Dec. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <> The Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score – was developed by health researchers at Yale University. It contains thorough analysis and studies about the fast-food restaurants, menu items, fast food nutrition scores, food marketing techniques, and the science behind the facts.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General, January 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2012 <> It provides helpful tips to prevent obesity. It also focuses not only on personal behaviors but biological traits as well. The article mentions the characteristics of the social and physical environments that offer or limit opportunities for positive health outcomes.
  • Texas Heart Institute “Obesity and Overweight” St. Luke’s Episcopal Heart Information Center, Smoking and Your Heart, Diabetes, Nutrition and Major Risk Factors 6 Feb. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2012. <> It is a fascinating article that gives tons of information about diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol nutrition. It also provides helpful tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle by providing educational information related to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Unknown Author. “The Obesity Conspiracy.” Rawrealtalk. Raw Real Talk. N.d.31 March 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <> This source was helpful to me by giving some facts on obesity in the United States. I chose this source after reading it because I agreed with much of what the author said. It provided me with the main idea to create an argument. It also provided me with a huge amount of data that I screened and links that I used to create my point accurately.
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Major Essay: Obesity Discussion, David Zinczenko's "Don't Blame the Eater". (2021, Sep 03). Retrieved August 8, 2022, from