Who is at fault for the current state of our nation's health in terms of our obesity rates and rates of other lifestyle-related diseases (type 2 diabetes, hypertension, etc.)? Can one blame the individual or the government?
The question regarding obesity and related conditions experienced by the nation today is by no means a simple one. Indeed, one might go so far as to say that no single individual or entity is to blame.
First, one might consider the nature of work and the economy today. Most high-paying jobs today are related to some form of information processing. These types of work are mentally taxing and time intensive. People spending their days in these generally sedentary positions may have little motivation to summon the energy for gym sessions.
Furthermore, the ready availability of fast foods such as McDonald's will tend to be prohibitive in terms of maintaining a healthy diet. It is far easier to simply pick up a fast food meal than to buy and prepare the ingredients for a healthy meal.
Sadly, this paradigm also extends to children. Schools focus on academic prowess rather than physical activity. Cafeteria meals also tend towards the unhealthy rather than a focus on nutrition. Hence, the problem is already established in childhood.
From this perspective, a strong case can be that manufacturing, industry and corporations are to blame. How does one blame an individual, or even the government, for the current physical state of the nation?
Remedial steps can be taken, however. Schools can be required by government to offer healthy meals. Workplace policies can include daily physical activity. Fast-food outlets can be encouraged to offer healthy options.
On the other hand, while choice lies with the individual, choice is driven by the nature of work, what peers choose, and the exhaustion and craving level on any given day. In other words, obesity is a complex problem with necessarily challenging solutions, with a clouded history hiding the real blamablity.