Can the Government take our Soda?

Personal Responsibility and Government Intervention in Public Health Crises As the emphasis begins to be placed more on national resources for health and a healthy population at the national level, inevitably there will be more attention paid to personal responsibility and individual choice with respect to health care: do individuals seek enough preventive care, do they smoke, do they engage in other unhealthy or unsafe behaviors? Taxpayers may increasingly demand greater personal responsibility to maintain one’s own health. In this debate, what role should the government play in encouraging or even mandating healthy behavior? Mayor Bloomberg made headlines in New York City when he decided to ban certain quantities of soda from the New York citizen’s diet: Study: NY Soda Ban Would Be Effective The specific rule would have banned the purchase of any sugary beverage above 16 oz. His approach wasn’t entirely novel—- bans on cigarette smoking indoors, alcoholic beverage taxes, trans fat bans, and mandatory displays of calorie counts have all caused similar controversies. The AMA recently declared that obesity is a disease, and experts agree that it has reached epidemic proportions in the US, with more than ⅓ of all adults now considered obese and obesity being linked to a variety of dangerous conditions like heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Even hospitals are attempting to target the problem. The Cleveland Clinic, for example, bans milk chocolate and full calorie sodas on its campus. Imagine that you work for the federal government, specifically the CDC, and you have been asked to draft a briefing on the ethical issues related to a soda ban for your boss, the Director of Public Health, who is considering implementing such a policy at the federal level. You do not need to come out on one side or another; you simply need to address as many ethical considerations as you can think of. It will be easiest to address them from a pro and con standpoint—in other words, what ethical arguments favor adoption of such a law and which oppose adoption? You can use outside research in your answer if it is useful, though it is not necessary. Additionally, consider what the role of federal government should be in the battle of obesity, specifically related to the soda ban. What are the ethical arguments in favor of the government being a leader in public health vs. some other entity, such as individuals, hospitals, or states? What are the arguments against federal government involvement?




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