Bader: FDA needs to do more; American health depends on mind-set

Anthony Bader

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration proposed changes to nutrition labels on food packages. The proposed changes come as an effort to curb obesity in the United States. While these new labels might make it easier for consumers to judge individual products, the change will not make Americans healthier.

It is no secret that soft drinks, potato chips and fast food are unhealthy. Not only are they unhealthy, but they also display unrealistic serving sizes on their packages. Unhealthy food is not the problem causing obesity, it is Americans’ mentality about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

According to United Press International, a survey conducted by Impulse Research found that 28 percent of Americans do not know how to cook.

Knowing how to cook is one easy way to eat healthily since cooking at home allows you to control what goes into your food. When you eat at restaurants or eat premade meals, you have very little control over what goes into the food or how much you are given. This results in eating food that is higher in sodium, fat and other substances that have negative impacts in large quantities. An added bonus is cooking your own food is less expensive than cooking your own food.

If the federal government really wants to make an impact on American health, it needs to require — not just suggest — that schools educate children on how to shop, cook and eat in a healthy way. Requiring classes on healthy living would avoid a mandate by the government to rid the country of unhealthy foods.

Americans are not usually too accepting of the government telling them how to run their personal lives.

Health classes for children in school would simply give people the tools they need to live a healthy life without trying to force them to do so. Hopefully, this would result in less demand for unhealthy foods, and their prevalence in the grocery aisles would diminish naturally.

It is important that a healthy mentality is formed at an early age. Americans who have not developed healthy living habits will have to do much more research and put in much more effort to live healthily than Americans who were raised with those ideas in mind. In our fast-paced society, Americans are not always willing to take steps to do that.

A survey by Impulse Research Corporation found that roughly a quarter of American adults do not cook because they either do not have enough time or do not want to clean up after a meal.

Again, this problem arises from their mentality.

It is up to each person to take responsibility for his or her health. Your health is something you should reasonably value over other obligations in your life. Schoolwork and homework should not take up so much of your time that you would rather eat a McChicken rather than cook your own piece of chicken. Your job should likewise not drain your motivation so much that you would rather eat out every night instead of once in a while.

With that said, we live in a fast-paced world. As college students, our lives are very busy, and they will not get less busy in the future. Knowing this, we need to start developing the skills for healthy eating now.

With all the frozen, microwavable meals and fast food available in our society, it is more tempting than ever to pop a Hot Pocket into the microwave rather than eat a healthy snack.

True, it is likely not feasible to completely eliminate eating out or eating unhealthy foods. We all need a treat or a break sometimes. However, we cannot convince ourselves that it is okay to continually sacrifice a healthy lifestyle in order to get ahead in school or at our jobs. Why are these things worth doing if they make us feel poorly all of the time? There is plenty of room in our lives to be healthy as well as ambitious.

The good news is that even though there is so much unhealthy food available, there are also many resources available to help us eat better. The Internet is your best friend. Countless websites like provide endless ideas for easy and healthy meals.

Eating better is not easier or faster than stopping by Jimmy John’s or McDonald’s, and it does take extra initial effort to change your lifestyle to a more healthy one. However, taking it upon yourself to change your life and maintain healthy habits is undoubtedly worth it in the long run. It is simply a matter of what kind of life you would like to lead.