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As the obesity rate increases and Type II Diabetes becomes more prevalent, should the...

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kerria90 | Student | eNoter

Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:38 PM via web

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As the obesity rate increases and Type II Diabetes becomes more prevalent, should the government employ mandates to solve the problem?

Examples: Fast food regulations (taxation, locations, ingredients) Public School lunches Vending machines (removal esp in schools) Restaurants (having to provide nutritional information) Schools (releasing BMI of students to parents)

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 1, 2012 at 3:54 PM (Answer #1)

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There are arguments to be made for both sides of this question. 

On the one hand, we can clearly argue that government should employ mandates like those you mention as a way of reducing obesity and the health issues that go with it.  Obesity and related health problems have a major impact on our society.  The government ends up having to pay to treat these problems that occur because of people’s bad choices.  Therefore, it would seem logical to allow the government to make laws to regulate those choices so as to save money.

On the other hand, this is a view of government power that would seem completely excessive to many people.  The United States is supposed to be a free country where government intrudes in our lives in a minimal way.  Some of the mandates that you mention in this question seem quite intrusive.  Telling fast food restaurants where they can locate (so as, presumably, to reduce their attractiveness to consumers) seems heavy-handed.  Having schools humiliate heavy children by weighing them (even if not in public, it would at least be in front of a teacher) seems cruel and intrusive. 

Therefore, some sort of balance must be struck.  The government should do some things that are less intrusive (perhaps like requiring restaurants to provide nutritional information and removing vending machines from schools).  However, it should avoid doing other things that are more intrusive and less compatible with our ideas of limited government.

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