Television is loaded with programs glorifying the spiciest, most exotic, most decadent and most caloric foods in the country and around the planet. This obsession with food, no doubt, is part of what is driving our country to obesity. Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions with more than a third of Americans weighing in as “obese.” The figures are nearly 30 percent in Kansas. Tactics to remedy obesity include outlawing some high-calorie substances, such as soda pop, otherwise known as sugar-water.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed eliminating the sale and, consequently, availability of sodas and sugary drinks exceeding 16 ounces. Those restaurants, movie theaters and other merchants violating the new law would be fined $200 per violation. Stores and restaurants still could sell 32 ounces of pop, but restaurants, which the city regulates, would have to dispense the pop in two separate 16-ounce cups. Another municipality, Cambridge, Mass., now is following suit. While that may be appropriate for those communities — and that is what home rule is about — merchants are merely meeting consumers’ demands. If laws focused strictly on allowing only those things that were good for us — by whomever’s standards might be the leader at the time — then freedom of choice evaporates, as does personal responsibility.

Just imagine the number of people ready to sue whomever is making the rules for not outlawing certain items. Perhaps ice cream is a no-no, though frozen yogurt is OK. Fuel-efficient cars are OK, but gas guzzlers aren’t. Everyone will have to wear hats when they are outside to protect themselves from the sun. Next we’ll need to limit people’s screen time so they don’t spend too much time with a TV, computer or other electronic device. The list of prohibitions could be endless.

It makes more sense for people to take personal responsibility for what they say, eat, drink, do and otherwise participate in. Accepting the responsibility for our own actions means accepting the consequences, too. That way, when obesity proves to blame for diabetes and any number of other health ailments, we’ll know the real culprit was our own behavior.

Being around temptations, whether it is caloric food, sweet drinks, overspending or some other enticement, still means people must take the first step to either embrace or refuse them. Learning that there is a difference between reading, watching or being around a temptation and actually following through with its consumption is a personal choice.

Only when people have to live the consequences of their own choices will they understand it is up to them to make good choices.

 

— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher