The current national surveys on weight by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that more than 68% of total American population is considered obese or overweight. However, it is important to note that calories alone cannot be used to explain the reason for the obesity epidemic in the country. Many reasons have been pointed to the American diets that do not manage calories. Such explanation is founded on science which, unfortunately, does not provide the much-needed solution to this menace. Sam Dolnick in his article the Obesity –Hunger Paradox and Michael Pollan in the article Escape from the Western Diet vividly give their views on the reasons obesity in America. Though they argue in the context of the American diet, both authors’ views are distinct to the traditional explanations by scientists.
Both Dolnik and Pollan disagree on the conventional theory that the malnutrition cases in the United States are being caused by poisonous foods that are in disposal in the American food stores. Dolnick is quick to compare obesity with anger. He says that both obesity and hunger obesity are poverty symptoms. His argument is sensible because the Bronx, a city that has the highest obesity rate is also faced with significant risks of hunger than those living in Manhattan. He sounds quite rhetoric but on point when he talks about anger in America. Traditionally, anyone would imagine skinny individuals, ragged toddlers and beggars in a hungry America. On the contrary, in America, hunger reminisces through obesity. His theory concurs with the hunger survey released by Action Center and the Food Research which found out that 37% of South Bronx residents lacked money at some points in the previous 12 months.
Through such survey, Dolnick presents a different perspective on hunger. According to him, “hunger is not necessary starving but also food insecurity.” That is, being unable to buy fresh produce or foods with better nutrition. To explain his point better, he uses Precious a character in a movie called Precious (Dolnick, no.p). He thinks of her as food insecure. Though she is obese, she steals a bucket full of fried chicken from a restaurant for the purpose of breakfast. He fathoms that the reason for Precious to choose such a greasy meal that makes her vomit is a clear evidence on how low-income areas have limited options for living healthy hence, resorting to consuming such foods(Dolnick, no.p). Hence, they are referred to as food-insecure individuals.
“Reasonably worthy supermarkets are atypical in impecunious neighborhoods,” says Dolnick. It is a good reasoning that Bronx city has lesser supermarkets than New York City. The explanation is two-fold. That is, because of the high poverty level in Bronx city, the area is not favorable for business hence, the reason for fewer supermarkets. Therefore, people in Bronx have lesser choices regarding nutrition. According to him, “ in times of hunger, when you are simply attempting to get your calorie drinking, you are going will get what your belly deserves, and that can possibly make you satisfied even as you are trying to secure sufficient food (Dolnick, no.p).”
While Dolnick relates the nutrition problem in America to poverty, Pollan also disagrees that science cannot be used to explain the western diet. He terms scientific theories as confusing. For instance, one section of scientists is blaming the American diet on too much carbohydrate while the others hold their theories on fatty acids. Moreover, both functions of scientist are adamant into pulling followers to accept their hypothesis. Hence, Poland believes that there is religion in science. Just like Dolnick, Pollan is not willing to declare allegiances to other theories. Moreover, he insists that the scientist explanation about the American food will not in any way help in sorting the malnutrition issues facing the Americans (Pollan, 421). Moreover, Pollan understands that the reason for finding a solution to this problem is because people are often caught between the ideology of nutrition and escaping the western diet (Pollan, 423). Hence, for the sake of a solution we should escape from these bondages. He explains that the risks of relying on nutrition theories are that it only satisfies our curiosity and acts as a tool for increasing profits for the processing and medical industries as they embark on continuous modification of their products(Pollan, 422). He says, “the chief value of any of all nutrition theory …is not to the eater so much as it is to the food industry and the medical community (Pollan, 422).”
However, from Pollan assertions, it is indeed difficult to pool away from the American diet. One major reason is that processed foods have flooded the American market thus living no room for whole foods (Pollan, 424). Moreover, such processed foods are sold cheaply and are consumed as fast foods. “So plotting our way out of the Western diet is not going to be simple yet I am convinced that it can be done (Pollan, 424).” It is very unlikely that Pollan’s approach to better nutrition focusses on personal eating policies as opposed to the scientific approach that gives too much focus on what one eats based on nutrition and calories. Therefore, is genius of him to connect body health with the environment, an idea that is little known to most of us. However, the truth is, by following the food chain, it is evidenced that there are sets of ecological and social relationships(Pollan, 425). Besides, Pollan seems to share a similar opinion with Dolnick regarding the connection between poverty and malnutrition when he says that, ‘to eat well, we need to invest more time, effort and resources (Pollan, 425).” Unfortunately, enough resources are only available for better income earning families.
What stands out is Pollan’s dismissal of scientific theories. He argues that such theories only serve the purpose of explaining scientific phenomenon. He continues to scorn scientific theories that concentrate on a single issue despite a clear resolution being available. For instance, scientists have so many theories that explain the reason people who eat western diet suffer from chronic diseases than those who eat traditional foods(Pollan, 422). However, according to Pollan, such explanations ignore the common fact that people should stop eating western diet. Moreover, form his argument Pollan, reveals the conspiracy between scientists and the medical community. Both sections are paying much lip service to the importance of prevention because they are bound to profit from both new drugs and treating procedures for chronic diseases (Pollan, 422). Hence, according to Pollan, we cannot expect the medical community to be sensitive to the ecologic or cultural approach to food problem.
The differences between the two articles are that Dolnick’s article is keen on explaining the link between poverty and obesity while Pollan’s article provides principles of healthy eating without scientific explanations. Also, while Dolnick relies on experts and research to explain his hypothesis, Pollan explains why we have failed to tackle the issues surrounding the American diet. He blames overreliance on misleading scientific theories which only helps the food processing and health industries to mint profits from Americans. Hence, his principles are based on old age lifestyles instead of scientific theories. Also, in his article he shifts from the traditional debate that focuses on food type (Pollan, 426). Instead, Pollan dwells on the habits that can create healthy eating. On the other hand, Dolnick’s argument is solely based on interrelation between poverty and obesity. Moreover, in his the article, Docklin has articulated his argument like a scientific theory. He is not specific as Pollan who is categorical that people should avoid Western diet. Instead, Docklin is explaining theory of hunger and obesity. However, it should be noted that Docklin has introduced an issue that most people overlook. That is hunger does not reminiscent in skinny rugged and begging individuals but also in obesity. He also proceeds to prove that indeed poverty leads to poor diet.
In conclusion, both Pollan and Dolnick have drifted from the normal theories of calories to explore the American food. Dolnick fathoms that poverty and obesity are interconnected. That is, due to poverty one has fewer options for quality foods thus resorting to eating what is available for the sake of filling the stomach thus ending up obese. On the other hand, Pollan advocates for eating foods that do not have health claims and adopt the eating habits and manners of our forefathers to avoid health risks.
Pollan, Micheal. "Escape from the Western Diet." They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings 2 (2012): 434-441.
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