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We're not responsible for being obese?

richardgavelrichardgavel Posts: 820Member Member Posts: 820Member Member
http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/27/opinions/life-expectancy-corporations-opinion-sachs/index.html

Just read this article on CNN and it really infuriated me. I think the line that was the toughest to stomach was "While the obesity and opioid epidemics are sometimes written off as "bad life choices," these epidemics are largely the handiworks of an irresponsible corporate sector." More and more, we're being told that we're not responsible for our own actions, that our lives, our own destinies, are the result of the actions of others and not ourselves. You're overweight? Blame the soda/fast food vendors? Trump won the election? Blame Russia.

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Replies

  • lemurcat12lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886Member Member Posts: 30,886Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    The article is annoying, but I think it's important to distinguish between two separate things:

    (1) Are you ultimately responsible for your choices and are there things you should and can do to help yourself make better choices? Do you have a significant degree of choice in what you do, including (of course) what you eat? Yes, and that is important for people to realize when it comes to weight loss and maintenance.

    (2) Are there also societal (cultural and other) influences on how people as a group act, on average that may affect what we do? Of course this is also true. We aren't just fatter now because we got lazy and weak compared to people in the past. Put us in the same situations as them, and them as us, and you'd probably get the exact same results as you have now (and did then) -- it's not that people are different, but that circumstances do affect behavior. (This can be such things as having no option but to move more, less food availability (which is not inherently good, obviously), and different cultural norms and taught behaviors.) To compare something like addiction (which the CNN piece did, I'm not convinced that's a great comparison here), clearly people ARE responsible for their own behaviors, but that doesn't change the fact that cultural norms and attitudes and availability and family background WILL make a statistical difference in behavior on average. We can acknowledge this and think about whether there is anything that can be done to tilt outcomes in a better direction without absolving people of responsibility. In fact, understanding what the influences are can be very helpful.

    I'm of the opinion that trying to identify and understand the influences on my behavior can help me exercise more responsibility.

    Trying to make all the "right decisions" without accounting for and understanding your environment is like trying to swim upstream.

    A recent example comes to mind: my husband and I watched a news show last year that discussed the trend of over-prescription of strong, potentially addictive painkillers in emergency room settings for patients with things like broken bones who probably didn't need that level of pain management and how it was potentially driving new addictions. A few months later, my husband broke his wrist in a fall. In the emergency room, they gave him a prescription for the exact type of painkiller mentioned in the story. Based on the news story combined with the level of pain that he was feeling, he decided not to fill the prescription. Knowing the overall trend allowed him to make a better decision. I don't doubt his personal responsibility and will power for a minute, but knowing there are all sorts of people struggling with addiction problems with the US I'm glad we were aware and could avoid unnecessarily bringing a highly addictive substance into our lives (we both come from families with histories of addiction).

    Yeah, great example.
  • GottaBurnEmAllGottaBurnEmAll Posts: 7,724Member Member Posts: 7,724Member Member
    lemurcat12 wrote: »
    The article is annoying, but I think it's important to distinguish between two separate things:

    (1) Are you ultimately responsible for your choices and are there things you should and can do to help yourself make better choices? Do you have a significant degree of choice in what you do, including (of course) what you eat? Yes, and that is important for people to realize when it comes to weight loss and maintenance.

    (2) Are there also societal (cultural and other) influences on how people as a group act, on average that may affect what we do? Of course this is also true. We aren't just fatter now because we got lazy and weak compared to people in the past. Put us in the same situations as them, and them as us, and you'd probably get the exact same results as you have now (and did then) -- it's not that people are different, but that circumstances do affect behavior. (This can be such things as having no option but to move more, less food availability (which is not inherently good, obviously), and different cultural norms and taught behaviors.) To compare something like addiction (which the CNN piece did, I'm not convinced that's a great comparison here), clearly people ARE responsible for their own behaviors, but that doesn't change the fact that cultural norms and attitudes and availability and family background WILL make a statistical difference in behavior on average. We can acknowledge this and think about whether there is anything that can be done to tilt outcomes in a better direction without absolving people of responsibility. In fact, understanding what the influences are can be very helpful.

    I'm of the opinion that trying to identify and understand the influences on my behavior can help me exercise more responsibility.

    Trying to make all the "right decisions" without accounting for and understanding your environment is like trying to swim upstream.

    A recent example comes to mind: my husband and I watched a news show last year that discussed the trend of over-prescription of strong, potentially addictive painkillers in emergency room settings for patients with things like broken bones who probably didn't need that level of pain management and how it was potentially driving new addictions. A few months later, my husband broke his wrist in a fall. In the emergency room, they gave him a prescription for the exact type of painkiller mentioned in the story. Based on the news story combined with the level of pain that he was feeling, he decided not to fill the prescription. Knowing the overall trend allowed him to make a better decision. I don't doubt his personal responsibility and will power for a minute, but knowing there are all sorts of people struggling with addiction problems with the US I'm glad we were aware and could avoid unnecessarily bringing a highly addictive substance into our lives (we both come from families with histories of addiction).

    That's a great take on the subject.
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