Week 22 : Should governments penalize people for unhealthy lifestyles?

There is a train of thought that people who live unhealthy lifestyles should be punished for doing such, but is it really right to let the government punish them?

Personally I think it would be ridiculous.

It would be censorship of people’s lives in the most intimate way and not something you could honestly police.

For instance what is unhealthy?

Eating McDonalds won’t make you unhealthy unless you just eat McDonalds, should anyone who eats a McDonalds be punished? Would it be right just to ban McDonalds in general so people couldn’t get fast food?

If we then ban fast food one of the knock on effects will be that “healthier” options would be able to charge more for their food, with no competition from cheaper options then eating out would become a true rich people thing. Its basically punishing people for enjoying something.

We already have laws on drugs, we force kids to do sports in schools and try to teach people to live healthy lives but the true fact is that the government doesn’t do its best to make sure that healthy food is affordable. I’ve noticed since the nice weather my food bill has gone way up because instead of buying quick, unhealthy meals to warm up in my microwave I’ve tried to eat more salads and stuff. Its nicer in this weather but its much more expensive.

In actual fact a lot of the things that would change very much feel like a punishment for poor people.

What the government should be doing is making healthy food more affordable, teach kids to love sports instead of making it like torture at schools and people should butt out of other people’s lives.

You can judge someone on the outside based on weight and all sorts but you don’t know the people personally. Some of the fittest people I know have a few extra pounds and its usually because of reasons other then being unhealthy. For example Anna is slightly over weight but I know people with muscle tone and “healthy” lifestyles that can’t lift half as much as she can or walk half as far as she can. Her problem is her depression means she starves herself for long periods then over eats when she gets her appetite back, she won’t eat meals but will snack on her break and whilst she gets a lot more exercise then some people do she doesn’t drink enough water or leave the house much when she doesn’t have too. In one way the government would punish her for a mental health problem that maybe the government should be helping more to tackle, she suffered from this for most of her life and its something she can’t help but it has led to unhealthy habits that she’s trying to break on her own because there is just little to no help for her to get past it.

Where do you then draw the line? How do you tell who has a unhealthy lifestyle? What about people with eating disorders that can look perfectly healthy on the outside but inside are killing themselves? Drug abusers before they become obvious drug abusers on the outside? People who self harm? Why punish them instead of helping them?

A lot of the arguments for this kind of thing happen to be aimed at “lets imprison fat people” but never see the fact that a whole bunch of people are unhealthy just not in the way that they define it.

Instead of punishing people surely its better to help them?


2 thoughts on “Week 22 : Should governments penalize people for unhealthy lifestyles?”

  1. I remember when my high school tried to be more healthy, so they introduced a milk shake vending machine next to the soda one. It’s been awhile, but I remember the amount of sugar was pretty much the exact same thing.

    I do think the government should try to restrict the amount of unneeded sugar in food and I agree with you that they should make healthy food cheaper. They shouldn’t punish people, but help them and maybe even provide incentives or something to make the transition easier.

    This is a complicated issue, because you can eat only McDonalds and be healthy depending on your choices. Punishing people will only make it worse, plus people tend to do better with incentives instead of punishments.

    1. Our school just removed the vending machines and replaced them with fruit ones. More people just went out of school on breaks to the local shop and spent their money in there instead.

      Exactly. If you give people incentives to be more healthy they are more likely to go out and BE healthy and it needs to start at grass roots. When I was at school PE was a nightmare for anyone who wasn’t sports inclined, it wasn’t something that was fun for those who weren’t athletic or found joy in sports and stuff, those who then WERE good at it were in a way given free license to make those who weren’t feel bad which turned them even more against PE.

      PE doesn’t need to be teaching kids to play football or rugby, tennis or other things it just needs to be Physical Education, it needs to tone down on the pitting each other against each other all the time and just get people active.

      Again in cooking there was a overwhelming lack of teaching kids about healthy foods and stuff and more just boring us into making simple things for a few months. Food classes should be important too and maybe PE and cooking classes should be merged into a Healthy Lifestyle class to teach at the lowest level how to look after yourself without being preachy or isolating vast groups of people. We do still need to teach competitive sports and things like that because the world is competitive and people need to learn to focus on winning, taking losses and having a decent outlook on life but I feel schools in general need a more “this is life” look on things instead of what they do now. It only has to put one or two different already existing subjects together, teaching more critical thinking and instead of making people think of facts and numbers re-working it to look at how it’ll be implied in life, but it would probably fix a good 70% of problems we have right now.

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