By Diya Ramesh (’23)
You’ve just gotten home from school, and you’re FAMISHED! You’re so hungry, it feels like your stomach is going to explode from growling. But now you’re faced with an important question, which is one that almost every person in this country (and many around the globe) grapples with everyday.
What should you eat? You know what’s good for you, so you’re thinking that you should probably take one of the fruits or vegetables from the fridge. Yet, it’s been a long time since you’ve eaten, and a huge bag of chips is tantalizingly sitting there on the counter, begging you to take some. Your mouth waters so much, you’re practically drooling, and you can just hear the chips calling your name. You slowly inch toward the bag, all the while trying to ignore the little voice in your head that’s warning you. You think, “I’ll just take one little chip. It couldn’t possibly hurt.” You cave, and as soon as that salty, crunchy, lip-smacking goodness enters your mouth, there’s no turning back. One chip turns into ten, and ten chips turn into twenty. Before you know it, the whole bag has disappeared. “How did that happen?” you wonder to yourself. You’re slightly disheartened, but you console yourself, saying that you’ll be healthy tomorrow.But, tomorrow never comes. That is the fact of the matter. We are people, and we make mistakes. Though many of us make the effort to eat healthy food, some of us just don’t have the time, the effort, the ability, the situation, or the willpower to do it. Even when we do try, our world is filled with junk food, so it takes sheer control and willpower to overcome those cravings. However, it isn’t just us, it’s the world we live in. Think about it, if junk food wasn’t available for us to eat, how could we eat it? Maybe, if it wasn’t around, we wouldn’t crave it all. That is why I believe that although people must make an effort to eat healthier food, the U.S. government should also create laws that tax and limit the amount and type of food that companies and restaurants produce.
I know what you’re thinking right now: “She’s crazy!” I promise you, I’m not. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. Let me back up a bit. The food in our country is currently sickening our population. In the United States, the leading cause of death is heart disease, which is followed by cancer. A large factor in this is diet. The typical American diet is notorious for being high in meat, simple carbohydrates, saturated fats, added sugar, and sodium, but the majority of people don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, dairy, and unsaturated fats. Also, as of 2015-2016, 93.3 million adults have obesity, while every 1 out of 10 people has diabetes (And 90-95% of these people have Type 2 Diabetes). Additionally, children are developing diabetes, and since the 1970’s, the percentage of children and teenagers with obesity has almost grown thrice as much. This is a part that makes this problem extremely difficult to solve. Though adults can sometimes manage their diets and exercise self-control, many kids may not be able to. To add to this, the foods present in the American diet are designed to be addictive, and companies often use the media to specifically advertise to children. So children crave and request these and only these foods, even when their health is negatively affected.Also, parents often have to cave into these demands because they are busy and stressed and do not have the time or energy to deal with meltdowns.
Now, let’s talk about food pricing in our country. To begin with, fast food and processed food in this country are cheaper than healthy food. For example, you can purchase a burger at McDonald’s for just $1 (And an entire meal for a little more), but you need to pay $1.57 for just 3, medium-sized apples. It is just ridiculous that in this country, we have to pay more to keep ourselves alive! However, for those who can afford it, this is just a slight expense, but for those who truly can’t afford it, this issue truly poses a complex problem. Do they pay the extra money and have their families eat healthy, or do they buy fast food and save the money for other aspects of their life that could really use it? It’s a tough call to make, and it’s hard to blame anyone for their decision.
So, how do we solve this problem. There’s no clear-cut, definite solution. However, we can make efforts to improve the situation. For example, if more people could cook food at home, buy locally-sourced food, stop buying processed foods and fast foods, and eat more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, overall health would improve. However, for those who don’t have enough time or money to do this, obviously, this isn’t the most viable solution. That is where the other part of my plan comes in. If the government could make laws that reduce the amount of processed food and fast food produced, laws that force companies to produce healthier food, and laws that increase taxes on processed or fast food and reduce the taxes on healthier food, this could really help spawn a change for the better in our nation. This has proven to work in the past.The biggest example would be the tobacco industry. Before laws were implemented, tobacco regulations seemed ridiculous, too, but now we have almost conquered the problem. We could do the same for food. At the same time, we must make small changes at a time and make sure these changes aren’t too drastic, because it won’t be easy for people to adjust to these new changes , and it is still alright for people to treat themselves to these foods once in a while.
So, in conclusion, we need to change our food habits and our laws, in order to save ourselves.