The question that has arose in the past few years due to an increase in health problems is, whose responsible for one's health? Specific health problems that caused this question to arise are obesity, issues induced by smoking, drinking, or others problems caused by one's actions. The numbers for these problems have risen exponentially recently. There's also a thought of social determinants which includes things such as work and social life.Many may blame the government due to the high prices of healthy foods and the convenience of unhealthy foods, or the price of tobacco products and such, but others may say that it's the choice the individual makes. Personally, I believe both have a huge role in the health of a person. In the end, a person makes a choice based on the surrounding things that they've learned whether that be from society or how they were raised.
Although some may think that the health of individuals shines a light on these other aspects, the other people would say it is solely the individuals spot. I believe that it's a complete effort set forth by all the parties looked at and D.B Resnik would agree with me, who is the author of an article called “Responsibility for health: personal, social, and environmental.” Resnik says “Responsibility for health should be a collaborative effort among individuals and the societies in which they live. Individuals should care for their own health and help to pay for their own healthcare, and societies should promote health and help to finance the costs of healthcare” (Resnik,2007). Resnik believes that all parties, individual, industry, and government, should all have a part in one's health. This is because all those other factors can do is influence and support but in the end they can't make choices for people which makes it a group effort.
Many people would say the government has a huge role on the public's health. They determine taxes and laws that can impact someone's actions. The government have implemented many laws in order to reduce the amount of health problems that have to due with obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Now, restaurants must display the amount of calories in each dish somewhere as well as tobacco companies must print somewhere on the carton how smoking may cause lung cancer. Although they have done these things there is only so much they can do considering the individual has the final choice of what they want to do.
Thomas Frieden is an american public health expert who had something to say about the government's influence on public health. Frieden wrote an article solely about this called “Government's Role in Protecting Health and Safety” where he says “Government has a responsibility to implement effective public health measures that increase the information available to the public and decision makers, protect people from harm, promote health, and create environments that support healthy behaviors. The health, financial, and productivity gains from public health actions benefit individuals and society as a whole” (Frieden, 2013)Frieden does say that the government has somewhat of a responsibility but it is not fully just theirs. By saying the government's responsibility is to set forth a future in which an individual can be healthy, he is implying that the government should be doing as much as they can, but in the end it's the individuals actions that affect public health. Similar to Frieden, Kelly Brownell writes that public health is a collective effort. He says “In fact, though, the public health community has long understood the need for programs that blend a focus on individual choices and collective responsibility.(Brownell, 2010)” These two authors agree that the government has a huge role in inspiring and teaching individuals to make healthy choices and live healthy lifestyles.
Society, social determinants, and someone's morals also have a huge part in how they make choices for their health. Shalonda Horton conducted her own study. These include things like having a job, having health insurance, and things that in the end won't help directly your health, but will in some way. It included one female and it was done to see how someone describe personal health responsibility (PHR). At one point of the study, when describing “Category Four: Maintaining Resources” the participant said “I need to maintain that job so I won't be without healthcare.” The participant is saying that she believes it is important to have a job, because if something happened with her health, she made the choice to have healthcare, which in the end would help her. Having a job is something an individual can control most of the time. Although at times people may go through times of hardship and are unemployed, there is always a way to bounce back.
Not only does the government need to recommend healthy living ideas, the industry as a whole does as well. The industry can include businesses related to food, clothes, lifestyle and things promoting health. This means that they have a responsibility to promote health as well. Food industries prices for unhealthy food is extremely less than the healthier options. This is causing more and more people to end up choosing the unhealthy option, resulting in obesity rates to rise. In order for people to live healthier lives the industry needs to put in effort to make healthier options more affordable. Most of the time, companies are not at all worried about an individuals health but merely their own benefits and how much money they are making. This is not the only thing affecting the industries need to help individuals to live a healthy lifestyle.
A problem that the industry does face is caused by the government. Things like taxes and prices of the laws the government puts in place, such as calories on display, is so expensive they are forced to have high prices. This is something an individual can not control. In order to make a profit the companies need to raise prices of certain items, causing the unhealthy items that are cheaper to make, stay cheap, as the healthy, a little bit more expensive items are unaffordable to some. An example is one given by Brownell, he says “The tobacco industry voluntarily withdrew its television advertising in the 1970s in exchange for the right to market in all other media. What seemed at the time to be a public health victory turned out otherwise, as industry used other more cost- effective means of marketing”(Brownell, 2010). This, being totally out of the individuals control, affected them because although they were not seeing these ads on TV, they were everywhere else. Ultimately this helped the industry and hurt the consumer because they were being bribed in order to make decision that hurt their health.
Once reading and seeing different perspectives on whose responsibility it is for someone's health, I realized it ultimately is the individuals. By saying this I am not saying that the government, industry, or someone's social determinants do not have a big role. If the individual is shown and raised to know a healthy lifestyle whether that be by what they are taught in schools, parents, or through the government, then they will have a better chance of making healthy choices. In order to live and make healthy choices, you must be taught and shown healthy decisions. The only thing that the government, industry, and society can do is create a platform in which individuals feel confident in following.
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