Friday, July 22, 2016

Is Obesity Morally Impermissible?

From guest blogger, Allan.

The science behind body composition is simple. Every human being requires a certain number of calories to exist, known as the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is the number of calories a person would burn if they slept all day, and depends on body weight and height, ranging between 1200 to 2400 Calories. In addition, one burns calories with physical activity which is accounted for by the person’s Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Consuming your TDEE in food daily will enable you to maintain your body weight, while eating above or below this amount will lead to weight gain and loss respectively. This is based on the fundamental laws of thermodynamics.

There are millions of people around the globe that are unable to meet their calorie needs and go undernourished every day. While there is no shortage of food, it is not evenly distributed. America is often stereotyped for its overweight citizens, which is largely true. Over a third of the American adult population is obese. The only way to reach a state of obesity is through severe over-consumption of food, and therefore energy. Since this energy is not burned, it gets stored as fat, and therefore, is wasted. With that I ask: should it be morally permissible to reach a state of obesity while there are millions who are unable to even achieve basic energy needs to sustain themselves?

This idea can also be extended to bodybuilders, athletes, food challenge competitors and even people suffering from bulimia. Their over-consumption of food does not provide any moral benefit. I have a lot of thoughts about this subject and won’t go too in depth here. This will possibly be my paper two topic. The counterargument here would be that the food suppliers and retailers benefit from this over-consumption, which is good for the economy. Sports such as bodybuilding and food challenges provide entertainment to the masses and increase aggregate happiness as well. I also find this analogous to the wealth distribution in America, where a part of the population holds the majority of resources.

1 comment:

Julie said...

I find this really interesting. I think obesity requires some negligence, but does that deem it immoral?

I think there might be an issue with questioning a bulimic persons as potentially acting immoral when purging perfectly fine food that someone else needs. Someone with Bulimia has an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a mental disorder and can be extremely controlling. This brings into question: are people with mental disorders 100% responsible for their actions? Obviously it will depend on the severity of their disorder. But if they aren't, what do we think about any immoral acts they perform? Should they be held morally accountable? How do we handle this type of case?

Let's look at another extreme of eating disorders, anorexia. They are starving themselves, thus preserving their share of food for someone else who doesn't have access and needs the nutrition. While one person may be over consuming their "share" of food, an anorexic person is eating much less than their "share." Does this help balance the food distribution? Are they acting morally by sacrificing for someone else in need? Are they held accountable or are they not since they are influenced by irrational thoughts?

I really like this idea and how it connects to whether or not we have a moral obligation to help others.