Welcome to Rye Country Day's Economic Blog. Here you will find perspectives by students taking Economics at Rye Country Day School. It is meant to be a forum where students can openly express their ideas and take positions on relevant economic issues. I urge everyone to participate in presenting their own ideas in an open manner so that we can all learn from each other. Regardless of whether you are currently taking Economics, everyone is invited and encouraged to comment on articles and get involved. Feel free to e-mail me, Alex Osborne at alexander_osborne@rcds.rye.ny.us , with comments or suggestions.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Featured Entry - Personal Health Not Enough?

Obesity is definitely a problem for Americans. Since the United States is so wealthy, Americans have to worry about eating too much and gaining too much weight (while in Africa, people are trying not to die of starvation). How does America solve the ridiculous problem of obesity?
It’s simple. The most important economic principle (according to me) is that people respond to incentives. If people eat too much McDonalds or ice cream, there are obvious healthy risks; however, people seem to care about that less than money and convenience. As a result, I propose an alteration in health insurance that will make living unhealthily more expensive. This is a great monetary measure to get people to stay healthy. If a person belongs to a gym, then their health plan (and if old enough, life insurance) is less expensive. In addition, the government should force unhealthy food producers to place a warnings on their product and advertisements. For example, at the end of a McDonalds commercial, there would be a short sentence saying that consumption of McDonalds may lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure which could lead to hear attack. Even though the government can educate the American people through advertisements, the government has little control in the problem. It is unconstitutional for the government to regulate a free market like fast food. Burger King is producing a good and there is a demand for it, the US government can not artificially raise the price with taxes because it is an abuse of their powers. The government does have the right to force Burger King to inform consumers of its
product’s health risks. I believe my two solutions, education and monetary measures will go a long way in solving the problem of obesity.

-Sam Cross


Christian said...

I completely agree with Sam here. The ideal of limiting a company who isn't commiting a crime in our free country seems absolutely ludicrous. Also, health is a very personal issue. While some work very hard to stay fit others eat freely and manage to stay slim. Therefore imposing a solution that benifits one but not the other is a bit unfair. The ideal of warning labels, however, I think is a great ideal. It directly helps the situation without limiting the company or keeping people from what they want to eat. Also, lack of education is in great deal where this problem starts so education such as the warning labels is definitely the solution. If people were just better educated about what they were eating, they would make better informed decisions themselves, and wouldn't need the government to make those decisions for them.

Chelsea Gaulin said...

I like Sam's ideas about adjusting health and life insurance. But I agree with Christian, that because of the individual, some people can't and or don't need to belong to a gym in order to stay healthy. The general public can’t be assumed to have the means or accessibility to facilities such as those. I do however think warning labels are a sure-fire solution. Apart from those ignorant few who chose not to notice the labels, with enough repetition, people might begin to get the idea that these foods are in fact not healthy for you. Another idea I had - going along with government involvement - is some how taxing the ingredients used by fast food industries. The high fructose’s and other truly disturbing products added to make fast food - fast, should be difficult to come by, and expensive. Yes, these chains are a free market, selling a good with demand, but I don’t believe taxing the raw ingredients is in any violation of that.

Hayley O'Neil said...

I like the idea of corresponding good health to cheaper health plans (sam's example about belonging to a gym and therefore paying less for health insurance) but I can see a lot of people just joining a work out facility and never going, or as Chelsea mentioned; not all people have access to them. I would suggest that when a person is evaluated by a physician, if any improvement is made in their health since their last visit (blood pressure/cholesterol/etc.) then their health carrier should be informed and their costs should go down. However, this would only apply to those who obviously have a health carrier, and who see a physician yearly. Concerning the warning labels; I am not sure how much affect they would have since if Americans didn't already know that MacDonalds is not good for them healthwise, I would think that they know now because of the major publicity about obesity and poor health in America through the media. Maybe government funded education in health classes in both public and private schools not just about specific fast food places but in maintaining good health in general is a good way to prevent future obesity and health risks. As a tax payer I would be glad to know my money is going towards preventing disease, heart and liver problems, depression, etc., associated with poor health/obesity.

alex buckingham said...

I found the begining of the article about people trying not to starve to death very intresting. The U.S. burns and destroys tons of crops every year to keep the price at a reasonable level, while people elsewhere starve to death. I know at the begining of the school year we were taught that morals do not belong in economy, but that seems a bit redicules. There is enough food in the world for all to be fed, but all arn't. I am aware that there is probably no profitable way to deal with this the correct way, but there must be some way that doesn't hurt the economy too much.