It’s about that time again in the beautiful state of Vermont where the sun has decided it’ll come out from behind the clouds and shock all of us residents who may have forgotten it actually does get warm here. As such, I have made my way down to the beach to celebrate several times in the past week alone. And, sadly, my first trip to the beach involved me cramming my pale body into last season’s too tiny bikini. One pretty painful sunburn later and a trip to Victoria’s Secret to get a suit that actually fits means I’m ready for round two. Bring it on beach.
The title of this post is a slight manipulation of words in Michael Jackson’s song “Beat It.” It describes the struggle I feel to eat healthy (especially during the summer) to shed a few of those winter pounds, despite the fact that I see advertisements constantly for food that won’t be friends with my hips and thighs. And this got me thinking: who’s responsible for what I’m eating? Obviously myself, for caving occasionally and shoveling a Big Mac into my mouth as fast as my jaw will let me. But what about McDonald’s for putting those highly processed two beef patties, special sauce lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, and a sesame seed bun images in my face all the time?
This is about responsibility people. But it’s a difficult issue because everyone wants to point fingers in different directions. I think it’s fair to say that people have two hands, so one of those fingers should be pointed right at themselves. But what about the other hand? I think that a finger should also be pointed at the media. Research has been conducted on this topic, and results have found that food advertising primes consumers to eat more (Priming Effects of Television Food Advertising on Eating Behavior.) The study had participants watch programming that showed food advertisements and also had a control group of participants that watched programming without the presence of food ads. Those that were shown programming with food advertisements ate more of the snacks that were on the table in the viewing room.
Another article from CBS News, “Are Media to Blame for Obesity Epidemic,” suggests that the media depict obese persons in a negative light- such as engaging in behaviors such as eating unhealthy foods and sitting on the couch. These images have led to feelings of low self esteem, binge eating episodes, and some even noted experiencing weight-based discrimination. To combat these stereotypes, the media have started to incorporate images of overweight people exercising and engaging in healthy behaviors like cooking healthy meals.
It’s interesting to see how differently people feel on the topic of whether or not media are to blame for obesity. Some commenters thought it was ludicrous, while others did believe media played a role in consumption and behaviors.
And I’m well aware that my own opinion is not right or wrong, and may be lost in the sea of others, but at least I’m putting it out there. What do you guys think? Can someone other than the consumer be blamed for what they eat? Is the media at fault? Which media are putting positive food information out there and which media are fueling the cycle of readily available, highly processed food; and poor eating habits?