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Guarantee a healthy life is the third target listed in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the purpose of this target is people can have a healthier lifestyle and increase life expectancy. Globally, around 70% of deaths were because of chronic diseases. Such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, which are caused by an unhealthy diet, smoking, lacking of exercise and drinking (Majid, 2018). According to the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index (2019), America is 35th (Miller & Lu, 2019). Although the U.S. is a developed country and possesses advanced medical technology, Americans are still having a low health index, and obesity is one of the main problems. In order to improve the obesity problem in America, we can refer to some solutions from different countries to achieve the SDG target.
Before solving the obesity problem, we should know the causes and effects of obesity. In America, around 36% of American adults are obese (Newman, 2017). The main reason for obesity is the poor diet in Americans.
A study published by the World Health Organization mentioned that the growth in fast food sales was related to an increase in the body mass index and fast food accounted for about 11% of the US average diet (Public Health, 2019). The high trans-fat and added sugar in fast food may damage our body. Lack of exercise is also one of the reason, around 80% of Americans don’t have enough exercise at the end of the day (Public Health, 2019). However, obesity is a disease and it is also a factor that causes chronic disease.
So that solving the obesity problem is important to improve the health care problem in the US.
One of the possible solutions for this problem is the “Hamburger Tax” in Hungary. According to the research of OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), Hungary is in fourth place in the world’s obesity ranking. Moreover, Hungary is the most obese country in Europe (OECD, 2017). In 2011, the Hungarian government passed the “Hamburger Tax”, which would impose the tax on customers according to the high sugar, salt, caffeine, and carbohydrate included in the unhealthy food. Consumers need to pay the tax about the high sugar drinks for €0.02 per liter, biscuits for €0.37 per kilogram, energy drinks for €0.92 per liter, etc (Myeurop, 2012). The Hungarian government controls the Hungarian food intake of the high sugar, salt, caffeine, and carbohydrate to meet the target on losing weight through this tax. In 2011, there is 30% adult in Hungarian have the obesity problem, but 3 years after the “Hamburger Tax” published, the percentage of obesity dropped from 30% to 27%(OECD, 2015). Why “hamburger tax” is suitable for the US? In the United States, healthy food is much expensive than unhealthy food, so there is why people would rather choose unhealthy food instead of healthy food to eat. The US government can take this ‘Hamburger tax’ as a reference, this policy may help the US’ s obesity problem when unhealthy food is much expensive than health food.
The second possible solution is in Canada. There is also a health problem in Canada where were over 5 million adults had obesity in Canada (the 2014 Canadian Community Health Survey), and 30% or more than one in three adults in Canada have obesity and may require medical support to manage their disease. According to the 2015 Canadian Health Measures Survey, the government of Canada published the ‘Canada’s new food guide’ in 2019, which is a mobile-friendly web application that provides Canadians with easier access to dietary guidance. The Canadian government controls people’s obesity through new technologies. This policy would implement in the school canteen, company canteen. Although this is a new policy, there is a lot of health expert focus on it. One of the health experts is Dr. David Lau who is a professor of medicine and obesity researcher at the University of Calgary. He said that “This is a much better way of guiding Canadians in terms of how best to follow a healthy diet.” This shows how important and useful it is. According to Food and Health Relationships and Changes (2015), having diets with more carbohydrate, less fat, and diets with more carbohydrates, less fat and average amount of protein. As a result, eating more carbohydrates and less protein-rich foods can reduce fat and making improvement of obesity problems. In the United States, the American’s life is relatively busy, and there is no time for them to consider the components of food when eating. If this technology is brought to the United States, people can easily choose relatively healthy foods, and reduce the number of obesity.
Amsterdam focus on educating the children to live healthily, therefore, Amsterdam published a “healthy-weight programme” to control the weight of children. Amsterdam is the biggest city in Netherland. According to the research from Netherlands government (2012), in Amsterdam the percentage of children who were overweight is 21%, in this kind of small city, 21% of overweight children is a serious problem. But in 2018, the percentage of overweight children fell to 18.5%, nowadays childhood obesity rates are rising in many parts of the world, but Amsterdam keeps the percentage falling instead, in 2012 to 2018, they have total drop 12% within 6 years. This programme aims to erase all the overweight children in 2033, to do that, the government requires children to be weighed and measured at school each year. Children in some schools are prohibited from carrying sugary drinks such as juices into the campus but only with water and milk. Students also get vegetables such as carrots and radishes and instruct them to try at least. Netherland and The U.S. is also a well-known country in the world, so, I think the “healthy-weight programme” will also solve the obesity problem in the US, educate the next generation to how to live healthily is more important than any suggestion of how to live healthily, then the U.S. can achieve the SDGs goal more easily.
As everybody has known, the obesity problem is a serious problem in the US, this problem is caused by the unhealthy eating habit of the American, most of them eat a lot of unhealthy food every day, and the important thing is that the government haven’t deal with this problem seriously. Some countries like Netherland, Canada, and Hungary already thought about some innovative ideas to deal with the obesity problem. One makes higher tax with unhealthy food, one uses high-tech things to control people’s eating habits, one focuses on the education on the next generation. The U.S. can learn about the ideas from other countries, because obesity is a very important issue, it is a direct impact on the health of the people.
On the other hand, research from a Macau local intellectual stated that the 9 to 10 years old is a “crucial time”, children in this age are easy to overweight(Beitler, 2018). So, the US should focus on education on this period, let children know that the drawbacks of obesity, it may achieve the best long-time health of Americans.
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