Magazine Review: “The Big Picture – Obesity and its costs” by the Economist

Weblink for whole passage: http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21568065-world-getting-wider-says-charlotte-howard-what-can-be-done-about-it-big

Just stroll in the street and you are bound to see branches of fast food restaurants in many corners welcoming us with salty fries and sugary drinks; flip over magazines and you will sometimes see attractive advertisements telling us how tasty the burgers and junk food are.  According to this special report about “Obesity and its costs” in that issue of “the Economist” (at 15th-21st Dec 2012.  It is still worthy to read despite not being the latest one), it is no longer a flabbergasting scenario with more and more flabby and chubby people all over the world carrying their bulky bellies.

As the saying goes, “You are what you eat”.  At first glimpse, obesity is deemed to be caused by the absorption of unbalanced energy, for instance, the excess intake of calories and inadequate expenditure.  Whether reversing the surplus lipid hinges on our unyielding will.  Yet according to this report, some external factors are not in the palm of our hands to manage.  Some people are much more vulnerable to the accumulation of body fat in adipose tissue due to their genes and biological disposition.  However, obesity has become a worrying global plight with devastating consequences, for instance increasing chance of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and cancers formation.  Acknowledging these detrimental repercussions, some obese people are trying various methods in order to slim their bodies down by all means no matter how eye-watering the bills they need to pay, thus constituting the rising popularity of drugs and medical treatments like bariatric and gastric bypass surgery.  Yet, not everyone can benefit due to the difficulties in covering the expensive amount, levelling the operations off and the reluctance to pay by insurance companies.

To tackle the underlying obesity causes, simply relying on medical treatment is no longer enough.  It is also incumbent for food companies and government to nip this worldwide epidemic in the bud.  Food companies have settled on promoting healthier and more nutritious products by cutting salt and cumbersome oil even though they won’t stop selling meaty, oily junk food.  To reduce expensive healthcare costs, on one hand, some governments like Hungary is taking the lead to impose penalties on fizzy drinks and fatty food.  On the other, exercise programmes and classes are and will be available few years later in Britain and Brazil respectively.  Nonetheless, these aforementioned actions do have their own constrains.  Some researchers remained sceptical about the ability of exercise to reverse the alarming obesity trend alone.  What adds light to the quandary is that everyone would have various interpretations about healthy and junky food products.  Furthermore, a blatant opposition has been stirred up for introducing a heavy tax in some places like New York because of the legislation failure.  Some even consider the tax is an impede to individuals’ freedom, thereby paradoxically contradicting their nation’s core value.

Undeniably, this worldwide knotty battle is still a long way to go.  Action speaks louder than words, different parties should continue confronting this obesity problem squarely and concrete measures such as should be sped up.  Most importantly, in my own opinion, it still falls on individuals to act swiftly as a first step.  After all, health and physical fitness are godsends that anything cannot be replaced, and are essential prerequisites for better quality of life.  It is never too late to mend.  But if they turn their head away to those oily fizzy food and unhealthy drinks promoted in the advertisements, no matter how hard the others tried, no one can help them.

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