I wanted to follow up on Tuesday’s post about emergency medical teams’ need for extra large equipment to better handle the increasing number of obese people. I failed to make some important points regarding known health risks and consumer responsibility.
Two readers suggested that I wasn’t hard enough on those who need the super-sized equipment. There has to be some personal accountability for poor lifestyle decisions, they argued, and ill health shouldn’t be solely pinned on the big food companies.
My thought process is a little different.
I would suggest that 98 percent of the people who smoke and 90 percent who ride motorcycles know the risks they are taking. On the contrary, how many people truly understand the deeper dangers of Trix yogurt, Nature Valley granola bars and Gatorade? Where are the government warnings—as we have for tobacco products—for artificial colors, excessive sugars and genetically modified corn and soybeans?
While I wholeheartedly agree that consumers have to do better, in many cases there are no options, whether it be an availability or financial issue. (See Brian M.’s comment.)
But this transcends socioeconomic levels and I no longer believe all people are knowingly eating poorly. Again, while the majority of smokers know what they are doing to their bodies, most of us eating supposedly healthy chicken breasts are not aware of the animals’ antibiotic and pesticide content.
After giving countless cooking lessons in the homes of well-educated people who have access to and can afford any food they want, I’ve come to believe that it is more about the dominant supply (what’s available in conventional supermarkets) and the ideal of convenience, a term perpetuated by the multinationals.