Summary and Analysis of “What You Eat is Your Business” by Radley Balko

Summary and Analysis of “What You Eat is Your Business” by Radley Balko

Summary  

The primary argument in “What You Eat is Your Business” by Radley Balko is that individuals are fully responsible for the obesity problem in the United States and not the government. Balko argues that instead of the government intervening on the array of food options available to consumers in the United States, it should pay more attention to fostering a sense of responsibility among citizens in the ownership of their wellbeing and health (Balko 395). In this case, the author implies that the government’s intervention should not restrict the availability and consumption of certain foods but instead help consumers make the right choices about the kind of food they eat.

According to Balko, the government has come up with a number of interventions that only escalate the cost of public health by people being more concerned about other people’s health than their own. He disagrees with the strategies put in place by the government in their efforts to fight obesity claiming that paying attention to personal responsibility is a more effective obesity mitigation method than concentrating on the public’s health. Balko in his article strongly disagrees with Jennings’ article “How to Get Without Really Trying” that strongly advocates for government intervention in dealing with the obesity crisis in the United States. He holds that the most effective way of alleviating obesity which is an enormous “public health” crisis is by withdrawing it from the public health realm, implying that the obligation of mitigating the obesity crisis should not be viewed as a public responsibility but as an individual obligation. He concludes that individual responsibility will help individuals make better choices about their consumption habits, exercise and their personal health, hence be very effective in mitigating the obesity predicament.

Analysis  

Balko is absolutely right in his argument about the effectiveness of individual responsibility in controlling obesity. However, the role of the government in the mitigation should never be neglected. Instead of imposing a restriction on consumers’ eating habits, the government can come up with strategies to encourage people to make the right choices in diet. When Balko claims that “the best way to alleviate the obesity “public health” crisis is to remove obesity from the realm of public health” (Balko, 397) he implies that the issue of obesity would not have been a big problem to the public’s health if it were viewed as a personal issue rather than the public’s issue. People tend to care more for themselves that for the public.

In Balko’s view, it is hard to view anything more private and with little public concern than what people choose to ingest (Balko 397). The essence of this argument is that what people eat is no one’s business but their own. However, contrary to Balko’s point of view, I believe that people tend to be affected by each other’s health in different ways. Therefore, people should be concerned with each other’s health as they have the potential to prevent certain health crises by intervening in the consumption habits of citizens.

The article successfully addresses its audience comprising both the public and the government. Balko makes his opinion to the government clear by criticizing its efforts of intervening in what people eat. He instead advocates for personal responsibility for individual wellbeing as an obesity mitigation strategy. He also addresses the public by letting them know that their health is their own responsibility and they should strive to maintain healthy conditions.

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