Perspective - Journal of Food Science and Nutrition (2023) Volume 6, Issue 2
Ethical considerations and alternative approach for the causes of obesity
Department of Food Science, University of Durham, Durham, UK
- *Corresponding Author:
- Taha Mehany
Department of Food Science,
University of Durham,
Received:23-Feb-2023, Manuscript No. AAJFSN-22-90107; Editor assigned: 27-Feb-2023, PreQC No. AAJFSN-22-90107 (PQ); Reviewed:13-Mar-2023, QC No. AAJFSN-22-90107; Revised:17-Mar-2023, Manuscript No. AAJFSN-22-90107 (R); Published:24-Mar-2023, DOI:10.35841/ aajfsn-6.3.172
Citation: Mehany T. Ethical considerations and alternative approach for the causes of obesity. J Food Sci Nutr. 2023;6(3):172
Obesity is a global health issue that affects people of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity has nearly tripled since 1975, and it is estimated that over 1.9 billion adults are overweight, with 650 million of those being obese. Obesity is linked to numerous health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. In addition to the health consequences, there are ethical considerations surrounding the causes of obesity and the way it is addressed in society. This article will explore the ethical considerations of obesity and alternative approaches to the issue .
The first ethical consideration of obesity is the societal stigma attached to it. People who are obese often face discrimination, bullying, and social exclusion, which can lead to feelings of shame and low self-esteem. This stigma is compounded by the belief that obesity is solely caused by a lack of willpower, despite the fact that it is a complex condition influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, environment, and behavior. The stigma surrounding obesity can be seen in media portrayals of overweight individuals as lazy, unmotivated, and unattractive. These stereotypes perpetuate the notion that obesity is a personal failing, rather than a complex health issue .
Another ethical consideration of obesity is the impact it has on vulnerable populations, such as low-income individuals and people living in food deserts. These populations may lack access to healthy, affordable food options and safe places to exercise. This lack of access contributes to the obesity epidemic and exacerbates health disparities. Addressing these issues requires a multifaceted approach that includes improving access to healthy food options and creating safe places to exercise in low-income communities. The third ethical consideration of obesity is the role of the food industry in contributing to the problem.
The food industry promotes the consumption of high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sugar foods through advertising and marketing. These foods are often cheaper and more readily available than healthier options, making them more appealing to low-income individuals. The food industry also contributes to the obesity epidemic by increasing portion sizes and offering super-sized meals that contain more calories than most people need in a single meal. Addressing the role of the food industry in obesity requires a concerted effort to regulate advertising and marketing practices and to promote the consumption of healthier foods .
One alternative approach to addressing obesity is a focus on health at every size (HAES). This approach emphasizes the importance of healthy behaviors, rather than weight loss, as a way to improve overall health. HAES recognizes that individuals of all sizes can engage in healthy behaviors, and that weight loss is not necessarily a predictor of better health outcomes. This approach also recognizes the harmful impact of weight stigma and promotes body positivity and acceptance. Another alternative approach to addressing obesity is a focus on the social determinants of health. This approach recognizes that social, economic, and environmental factors contribute to health disparities, including obesity. Addressing the social determinants of health requires a holistic approach that includes improving access to healthy food options, safe places to exercise, and affordable healthcare. This approach also requires addressing structural inequalities that contribute to health disparities, such as racism and poverty .
A third alternative approach to addressing obesity is a focus on the food system. This approach recognizes that the food system plays a significant role in contributing to the obesity epidemic and advocates for a shift towards a more sustainable, equitable, and health-promoting food system. This includes promoting the consumption of locally grown, whole foods and reducing the consumption of highly processed foods that are often high in calories and low in nutrients. This approach also advocates for policies that support sustainable agriculture and food justice. However, it is important to note that these alternative approaches are not without their challenges.
For example, the HAES approach has faced criticism from some who argue that it promotes obesity and ignores the health risks associated with being overweight or obese. Similarly, addressing the social determinants of health and the food system requires systemic changes that may be difficult to achieve. Despite these challenges, it is clear that a focus on ethical considerations and alternative approaches is essential for addressing the obesity epidemic in a way that is just, equitable, and effective .
The obesity epidemic is a complex health issue that requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the ethical considerations surrounding the issue. By recognizing the impact of weight stigma, addressing the social determinants of health, and promoting a sustainable and health-promoting food system, we can work towards a society that supports healthy behaviors and promotes health and well-being for all individuals. It is essential that we continue to explore and implement alternative approaches to addressing obesity that prioritize health equity, social justice, and ethical considerations.
- Ludwig DS, Peterson KE, Gortmaker SL.Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis.The lancet. 2001;357(9255):505-8.
- Stroup DF, Johnson VR, Hahn RA, et al.Reversing the trend of childhood obesity.Prev Chronic Dis. 2009;6(3).
- Harris JL, Graff SK.Protecting children from harmful food marketing: options for local government to make a difference.Prev Chronic Dis. 2011;8(5).
- Phillips MM, Ryan K, Raczynski JM.Public policy versus individual rights in childhood obesity interventions: perspectives from the Arkansas experience with Act 1220 of 2003.2005;3:505-8.
- O’Malley PM, Johnston LD, Delva J, et al.Variation in obesity among American secondary school students by school and school characteristics.Am J Prev Med. 2007;33(4):S187-94.