Obesity a bigger issue than smoking
Published: Sunday, July 22, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012 19:08
Three individuals stand before you.
The first uncomfortably shifts anywhere between 200 and 400 pounds of fat from one leg onto the other. Their clothes stretch tight and cling to the insides of crevices and rolls that adorn their body. Breathing is measured. Paces are slow. Faces are warped with the excess bloating caused by a lifelong dedication to food.
The second has a thin weathered face and sullen cheekbones. Peering behind lips creased into a stretched-thin smile are teeth yellowed and discolored by the first signs of tooth decay. A dedicated inhale drags the last hint of nicotine from a dying cigarette butt. Even their fingertips hold the lingering stench of a lifelong habit of smoking.
And the alcoholic, well I guess Americans rather do not mind them as much because according to a recent Gallup Poll, numbers are up for smokers and eaters that are the faces of today’s “extreme” or “very serious” problems of society.
Since 2003, Gallup has asked the question:
“How serious a problem do you think [obesity, cigarettes, or alcohol] is/are to society?”
In 2012, Americans believed obesity to be our most serious concern of the three, topping the charts at 81 percent, an increase of 12 percent since 2005. Higher than the 67 percent of individuals that believed cigarettes to be the cause of societal distaste, or the 47 percent that believed that alcohol was an “extremely serious” or “very serious” concern.
Darius Montague, a 21-year-old sociology major at DePaul University explains why he agrees with many Americans:
“I think [all issues] have their cons, but I would have to [agree with] obesity. I say this because I see obesity as more of a public issue than I see smoking as one. Obesity has factors contributing to it, that one single person cannot change; especially considering the infrastructure of society and the way certain products are mass produced or advertised.
Granted, smoking does have horrible effects on one's overall health, but I just see it as something an individual could easily overcome [over obesity].”
There is an estimated 45.3 million people (19.3 percent of adults) in the United States that smoke cigarettes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but every human being needs to eat.
Food has become an “extreme” and “serious” concern in our society because its necessity has been twisted by desire. Food is no longer an element of sustenance, but something that is displayed in slow motion, in increased size, in unnatural colors, and flavored and engineered to produce longer lasting and super scintillating experiences. Foods that are high in sugar, sodium and artificial flavoring are especially delicious.
They become absolutely addicting and consumers are malleable in the hands of individuals that are willing to capitalize on your hunger, especially through every medium that can reach the human senses.
How many times have you sat, in absolute indifference and seen a commercial for some: “succulent,” “mouthwatering,” “slowly roasted,” delicious sounding verb accentuated by an absolutely absurd sexual sounding adjective…and gotten just the slightest pang of hunger?
Or have you ever been chatting on Facebook and suddenly everyone decides to talk about wings, like they have never had wings before. Before you know it, people are checking in at ‘Wingstop,’ and then there is a fan page dedicated to “I love Wings! 1,000 likes!”
I mean, please. Where is the love for the sexy cigarette? Did it die with the last lone ranger on the Marlboro Ranch?
“[Smoking] is an issue that no longer receives as much publicity as it has since the drastic reduction of cigarette ads in public. Most people assume that smoking is not as prevalent as it actually is.” said Carlos Alfredo Rodriguez, 19.
Is it our skewed perspectives or our tragic morals that have us mixing up our priorities on the scale of societal damage? Considering that smoking still accounts for 400,000 American deaths per year compared to the deaths of 112,000 obese Americans, perhaps we should reevaluate our priorities.
“Smoking [is worse], because you can get cancer. Although being fat is bad for your heart, you can work to lose weight,” said Ahmed Atia, 24. “You can't undo the damage to your lungs [caused by smoking].True, and although those ‘Truth’ commercials have us running scared of even looking at a pack of squares, cigarettes seem to pale in comparison to what the $60 billion weight loss industry offers its consumers today.
In the last couple of years the way we think about food and it’s consumption has so radically changed that tobaccos sex appeal has faded in comparison to a younger and hotter issue, and that issue is everywhere.
Our children are not holding cigarettes; they are gorging on unhealthy, cheap, and over processed junk. Junk that is labeled ‘food’ while ‘organic’ (or real food) seems like a bizarre remnant of a time that was, and no longer is true.
Also, unlike cigarettes, the solution does not include ‘quitting’ food.
So we seem to be stuck in a state of fascinated bewilderment. Faced between the lesser of two evils, and today we have voted obesity as our greatest concern, literally. Whatever that may mean; it seems like the question was working against us anyways.