Annotated Bibliography



AnIndividual’s Weight Should be Considered a Governmental Concern

McKinnon,R. A. (2010). A rationale for policy intervention in reducingobesity. AMAJournal of Ethics,12 (4): 309-315.

Inhis article, McKinnon tries to explain why a person’s weight orobesity should be considered a government concern rather than asocial issue. The entire paper has focused on giving credibleevidence on why obesity has become a public health issue. McKinnondevelops his thesis by explaining the prevalence of obesity in theUnited States (US), and showing its burden both on the individual andthe society as a whole. As pointed out by McKinnon, the past 50 yearsare characterized by heightened increase in obesity levels among theentire socio-demographic groups. It has been evidenced that 16.9% ofchildren and 33.8% of adults in the US are classified as overweight.Obesity is linked to a number of psychosocial and health impactsincluding diabetes mellitus, asthma, cancer, osteoarthritis, as wellas social stigma among others. The author points out that despiteindividuals’ knowledge of the interventions which can beimplemented to curb weight such as amplifying physical exercises andthe consumption of smaller amount of calories, such interventions arenot sustained.

Tothis end, McKinnon asserts that the degree to which people arebecoming overweight in the country is alarming. It has beencontributed by failure of individual interventions to maintaincutback in body mass result in adverse public health implicationsbesides burdening the economy due to rising costs of care provisionand amplified levels of disability. Accordingly, policy makersincluding government agencies have been called to enhance diet intakeand physical activities with the aim of reducing weight amongAmericans.

Inorder to support his argument, McKinnon asks a question which he alsoendeavors to give an explanation. Is it advantageous for policymakersto intervene in individuals’ physical activities or dietarybehaviors? While some people think it is not desirable, the authorthinks otherwise. While people choose what to eat and the kinds ofphysical exercises to take part in, such behaviors are alsoinfluenced by biology, genetics, as well as environment. Trying tobalance individual freedom and the welfare of the community at largeis the key issue of concern. In this regard, policymakers focus onimproving the welfare of the population instead of focusing on theindividual. To support his argument, the author relates obesityintervention with other areas of policy concern such as nationalsecurity.

McKinnonprovides three grounds to support why a person’s weight is agovernment concern and why intervention is required. These groundsare based on John Stuart Mill’s rationalization regardinginfringing individual freedom in order to prevent harm towardsothers. Financial externalities, imperfect rationality, andasymmetric information are the three grounds provided by the author.In a nutshell, McKinnon concludes by affirming that the amplifyingrate of obesity in the US necessitates the government to implementvarious modifications. They include safe eating habits, physicalactivities as well as taxes on some foods in order to promote healthoutcomes among the US population.

Inhis article, McKinnon has supported his policy claim with crediblescholarly research. His argument has been founded on the work ofother researchers, and this is vital in any piece of work. Thearticle has offered the readers with a practical foundation on howindividual’s weight can be controlled. McKinnon work is significantto all policymakers who are endeavoring to deal with personal issueswhich indirectly affect the whole community.