Is the Government Doing Enough to End Obesity

Last Updated: 10 Feb 2023
Pages: 10 Views: 48

Obesity is a problem in America because it is increasing at a rapid rate. People in power are worried about the growth of obesity in the country and want to try to stop it. To address this, the government has decided to take action. Government leaders believe that the intake of sugar is contributed to the obesity problem. Them knowing this, they wanted to try to stop or limit the amount of use of sugar in food and drink. Along with sugar, leaders also feel that trans fatty acids are leading to obesity and want to remove them from products. Officials are also pushing to reduce or even remove trans fatty acids from products because of the same problem. They also want to push companies to put their nutrition labels on the front of the packaging.

These steps will hopefully lead to the end of obesity. One way the government tried was with a sugar tax. There are many studies to support the fact that high sugar intake leads to becoming overweight. So, to address this concern, they would make every product with sugar increase in price. The products that they produce would only be taxed if they had more than .5% sugar content, which would increase drinks and food by $.24 per liter. The companies that made these sugary drinks and foods would also be taxed for how much they use in their products. Irimia, a researcher in this field says, “It has been suggested that to influence consumption the price increase has to be at least 20%, and consumption of some foods is less sensitive to price changes than for others”.

This means that not all foods are going to be taxed the same. If more sugar is in the product, then more it will be taxed. Government officials wanted to tax products because it might make less people buy the product. With fewer people buying the product, fewer people consume the product. Making the population’s sugar intake less which ultimately lowers the obesity rate. This is because people aren’t consuming as much sugar and by not, people have less to burn off, making the obesity rate decrease. “The soda tax is part of a comprehensive strategy to reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes,” Dommarco says. However, though they think it’s important, they don’t expect results the right way. “The results in terms of a real reduction in obesity and increase in healthy consumption habits will not show immediately,”.“Our study shows that taxing sugar-sweetened beverages has a legitimate place as part of a toolkit for the prevention of obesity.

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Taxation alone will not solve the problem, but can contribute to its prevention and control” said Dr. Juan Dommarco, a director in the Mexican Research Center in Nutrition. Taxation of sugar happens everywhere in the world because it is such a problem that contributes to obesity. Like places such as Finland, India, Mexico, and along with the United States. For example in Finland, researchers found that there is a huge demand for sugary products, particularly in poor households. With a tax of $1.10 added to the product, the demand for product significantly decreases the want to buy by. By increasing the price with the tax, it would “reduce body weight by an average 3.2 kg and the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 13%.” This was their goal, which may not show progress immediately but they still tried to take a step in the right direction. Proving that the sugar tax will actually help lower consumers’ sugar intake. Another way that the government tried to control the obesity issue and death from coronary heart disease is by limiting or removing trans fatty acids in foods.

Government officials also believed that trans fatty acids was another reason for the growth of obesity. Not only can it lead to obesity, it can also lead to other problems. Enough trans fatty acids in someone’s diet can lead to coronary heart disease which can lead to death. In efforts to try and stop this problem, they also tried to get companies to limit trans fatty acids or remove them altogether. “The Food and Drug Administration, proposed rule to amend its nutrition labeling regulation to require, in part, that the amount of trans fatty acids (TFA) in a food or dietary supplement be included when the product contains 0.5 or more grams TFA acids per serving,” Julie says, a researcher in the food industry. By doing this, they hoped consumers would start to understand just how bad fatty acids are for the body by the label on the package. The Food and Drug Administration started taxing companies who made products with large amounts of these acids in their products just like the sugar tax.

“Trans isomers of fatty acids, formed by the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils to produce margarine and vegetable shortening, increase the ratio of plasma low-density-lipoprotein to high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol, so it is possible that they adversely influence the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD),” says Walter. With the information that trans fatty acids could lead to coronary heart disease, the government tried to push to remove them from foods. Trans fatty acids make people gain weight but it can also lead to more serious things. To do more research about this, a nurses’ health study was started in 1976 to get more of insight. 121,700 women completed a survey that asked about their medical history and their family’s. They were asked questions about height, weight, smoker, cardiovascular disease and much more. They then were given a follow-up survey every two years to update dietary intake and update on major illnesses that they had.

The researchers identified 61 foods that had the maximum total, saturated, and monounsaturated fats, along with other things that people were eating. The next step for the researchers was to find out how many times these women ate these kinds of things throughout the week. They concluded that these women that their intake of trans fatty acids were too high for what they should be putting in their body. After 8 years, 85,095 women responded to the survey to find that there was 431 cases of coronary heart disease and there were 107 of CHD. This proved to the government just how serious of an issue that trans fatty acids were. This made officials make a move to try to prevent as many deaths as possible by decreasing as many trans fatty acids in foods as possible. They also wanted to push to lower obesity in the United States. Lastly, The Food and Drug Administration tried to enforce companies to add nutritional labels to the front of their packaging after their rule in 1999.

Julie continues on to say, “On July 11, 2003, FDA issued a final rule requiring the mandatory declaration in the nutrition label of the amount of TFA present in foods, including dietary supplements, on a separate line immediately under the declaration for saturated fat”. This way showing the consumer right off the bat what is in the product. The officials hoped that customers would see all the sugar, salt and trans fatty acids as soon as they saw the product. Also, they hoped that consumers will see the things that are actually in the product. Consumers might think a product is healthy so they don’t read the nutrition label, but after seeing it first thing, they might realize how bad the item actually is for them. After seeing all these things about the product, consumers might not want to buy the item. By putting the nutrition label on the front, consumers will immediately how many calories are in it.

This might show consumers that the product that they are about to buy is a huge percentage of their daily intake of calories. Companies will sometimes put “It’s only 100 calories per serving” on the front. but packaging can be deceiving, there might be more than one serving in the package that the consumer is buying. Consumers will over eat if they are given a package of a lot of the product. Walter makes a point to say that “Moviegoers who were given fresh popcorn ate 45.3% more popcorn when it was given to them in large containers. This container-size influence is so powerful that even when the popcorn was disliked, people still ate 33.6% more popcorn when eating from a large container than from a medium-size container.”  Consumers will keep eating by listening to their head which tells them to eat more instead of their stomach which tell them to stop eating. By eating more than the serving that means eating more sugar, salt and trans fatty acids then a consumer should.

They hoped that customers would actually look at the nutritional facts and see just how bad one serving is for someone. Let alone the multiple servings that consumers tend to eat in one sitting. The government officials wanted to show the consumers how much sugar and trans fatty acids is in the product off the first glance. They wanted consumers to see what the product actually was in hopes of consumers buying a healthier alternative this way slowing the obesity problem. Although food regulations receive a lot of praise for helping the obesity epidemic, they don’t seem to be making that much of a difference. Companies don’t want to do their part to make a difference and have barriers that make the companies not want to take part.

“These barriers included the lack of trust in food safety legislation and enforcement officers; a lack of motivation in dealing with food safety legislation; and a lack of knowledge and understanding,” Charlotte says (Yapp, 1). Companies lack motivation when dealing with food safety legislation because with every food regulation it will lead to losing money for the company. With limiting or removing sugar in products, customers might not like the taste of the new product that is made. By not putting as much sugar in their products, the taste or quality of the product will be affected. Potentially leading to customers not re-buying the product because they no longer like the taste. “Respondents reported that taste is the most important influence on their food choices, followed by cost,” Karen, a food researcher says. By removing sugar from products that have a lot of sugar, means that products might not be as sweet as they once were.

Customers might not like this change because they bought the product based off of that sweet taste. By products not having the same taste as they once did, consumers are less likely to buy it because it doesn’t have the same wanted taste. This means the company is losing customers because of the taste which means that it leads to a loss for the company. So companies do not change their products because they don’t want to lose business. Since companies don’t want to do this step, nothing changes and the obesity problem just continues to grow. If companies keep the same amount of sugar in their products than their prices will increase because of the sugar tax. Increasing prices will also lose customers because consumers might not want to pay the extra amount. This is the same way with the trans fatty acid tax. The same result happens when companies put their nutrition label on the front of their packaging. Which is, driving the customers which means that they are driving some of their profits away. There are no company buy-ins with any of the regulation attempts.

Meaning that companies won’t want to do the regulations because they are only losing money off these things. The government isn’t giving companies money so that they can comply with the food regulations. The companies aren’t gaining anything by making the switch to be more healthy in their products. They are only losing, losing customers, losing profit and losing sales on their products. Some companies wouldn’t be able to stay afloat if they had to increase their price on their products because of loss of customers. So, overall companies didn’t want to comply with the government regulations. They felt that the regulations would just run their business out of business. Overall, companies not wanting to take part in helping stop the obesity problem for reasons of maintaining a business, just doesn’t change the problem. If companies don’t want to change then consumers will still consume the same foods and this way just helping the obesity problem to grow.

With these changes, the government still couldn’t control what customers want. Consumers are still going to buy what they want instead of what the government tells them to buy. With all the regulations, the government tries to push customers in the right direction with the products that they buy. but, the government can only do so much, ultimately it’s the consumers decision what they buy with their money. Most likely consumers are going to buy what tastes good to them. Karen, continues to say, “In the literature that examines food choice, taste has often been found to be a key predictor of food and beverage consumption. This means that consumers will still buy the product even if they know how bad it is for them as long as they like the taste of the product.

If the customers have the money to purchase these goods, they will buy them. Even when the price is increased due to the taxes on certain products due to the things that are in them. Consumers will always be able to make the final decision on what to buy with their own money. However, some companies do want to make a change with the obesity problem and are making the switch to try to make their products healthier. Kleiman, goes on to say, “Although major beverage companies continue to rely on their flagship brands, such as Coke, Pepsi and their diet equivalents, to drive sales of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), they have responded to public health concerns, sluggish sales growth and consumer preferences by expanding their beverage portfolios and shifting production to new, healthier options, including lower‐calorie CSD and non‐carbonated beverages, such as bottled water, juices and ready‐to‐drink (RTD) teas.”

With this step, companies like Coke and Pepsi are doing their part to make a difference to try to help with the obesity epidemic. Obesity is a huge problem in the United States and some companies do want to take social responsibility. With companies making these kinds of changes to their products, it will help stop obesity from growing. “Major beverage industry companies, through affiliations such as the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, have voluntarily pledged to reduce calories in the US marketplace through a combination of product innovation, smaller portion sizes and marketing of low‐calorie options,” says Kleiman. These are just some of the ways that companies are trying introducing to help with the problem. They feel as though they caused some of the problem by selling products with too much salt, sugar and trans fatty acids. So, they are trying to do their best to help reverse the problem so that it doesn’t continue to get worse.

But, overall, the companies that produce these products are not doing enough because the obesity problem is still growing all around the world. But some companies do try to make a difference. The government feels as though these steps are necessary for the end of obesity. The limiting of certain ingredients in products that have too much in them. Also, putting the nutrition labels on the front of the packages of foods. But, this is not an extremely effective way to solving this problem because companies don’t want to take part. It is ultimately not enough to make a huge difference in the growth rate. Along with that, it’s still the consumer's money and they decide what they buy with it. With all these regulations, it might lead to a decrease in the obesity rate but overall, it can’t end the problem all together.

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Is the Government Doing Enough to End Obesity. (2023, Feb 10). Retrieved from

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