Diets: Breaking an Obesogenic Society

The World and I, August 2004 | Go to article overview

Diets: Breaking an Obesogenic Society

Recognizing no simple course will suffice to suppress the swelling epidemic of overweight, specialists are cooking up extra large helpings of potential solutions. From politicians and policymakers to industrialists and investigators, a host of concerned interests has turned up the heat on the world's dangerously bloated beltline. Frustrated by the expanding expenditures required by the piling on of pounds, they are seeking ways to put the lid on lost lives and revenues.

Some 1.2 billion humans, including 129.6 million Americans, weigh too much. At last count, corpulence was overtaking tobacco as America's No. 1 preventable killer, claiming more than 400,000 lives--and gobbling up $117 billion in overall costs--each year.

"We have a society-wide problem, similar to that of tobacco, that must be addressed on a society-wide basis," said Nancy Amy, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California at Berkeley. "The food industry claims that eating is 'personal choice,' but that was the same argument that the tobacco industry used."

Of like mind, the authors of a report in the June 26 edition of the British Medical Journal have called for tackling the weight overload with global strategies similar to those dished out against tobacco.

"Potential international standards might cover issues such as marketing restrictions for unhealthy food products, restrictions on the advertising and availability of unhealthy products in schools, or potential price or tax measures to reduce the demand for unhealthy products," advised the team, led by Mickey Chopra, senior lecturer in public health at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.

The purveyors of the fare under fire bristle at such suggestions, questioning the soundness of the science underlying them and the line that separates industry liability and personal responsibility. In any case, taxes will not decrease the desirability of tasty treats, only increase their price, they assert.

The public, too, overwhelmingly opposes government intrusion into private eating and exercising habits, with one poll showing 91 percent of Americans would oppose a tax on high-fat foods, while 84 percent would find levies on portions in restaurants hard to swallow.

Toiling to suit everyone's tastes, the world's leading health agency spent two years negotiating with nations and food industries before finally formulating the first global plan to fight obesity.

The nonbinding strategy, adopted by the governing body of the World Health Organization May 22 in Geneva, aims to make mincemeat of poor diet and exercise habits, considered risk factors in obesity, diabetes, some cancers, heart disorders, and other chronic diseases that account for 59 percent of the 56.5 million total deaths reported around the world annually.

The WHO blueprint for countries trying to develop weight-healthy policies includes recommendations to cut sugar, fat, and salt in processed food, discourage marketing that exploits children, substantiate claims on packaging and provide comprehensive nutrition labeling and education. The unprecedented plan also advocates spreading the health word at school, work, and home through such measures as subsidizing fruits and vegetables in student cafeterias and adding sidewalks and bike lanes to roads.

The European Congress on Obesity also has given a nod to a similar proposal designed specifically for that continent.

In view of the size and seriousness of the problem they propose to pulverize, the initiatives are expected to produce pressure belying their voluntary status.

Already some international industry giants, like McDonald's, have moved toward the bulge-battling bandwagon by slimming down their super-sized portions and expanding their health-conscious fare. Ruby Tuesday, a casual diner with 700 franchises around the world, has started revealing the caloric content of its offerings, the Applebee's restaurant chain has spruced up its menu with a host of nutritious selections, and Kraft Foods Inc. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Diets: Breaking an Obesogenic Society


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.