In the article “Don’t Blame the Eater”, David Zinczenko argues that the paucity of information regarding what consumers of fast food – such as McDonald’s – are putting into their bodies, in addition to uninformative advertisements are to be blamed, for the increase in health disorders such as obesity and diabetes especially among children. Through the use of personal examples and facts, he persuades readers to think about this issue and possibly change their behaviour.
Zinczenko begins the article with a humorous slant by comparing kids suing McDonald’s “for making them fat” (1) analogous to “middle-aged men suing Porsche for making them get speeding tickets.” (1). However, he instantly moves from a comedic perspective of blaming the eater to analyzing the main topic of this essay by sharing his own personal story. Growing up as a “typical mid-1980’s latchkey kid”(1), his daily meal options, like for most kids today, consisted of the cheap and easily accessible fast-food chains in America such as McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and so on. This mode of lifestyle quickly led him to gain weight and become what he describes himself as a “torpid teenage tallow” (1). However, by joining the military and getting involved with a health magazine, he was able to change his life around. Although Zinczenko was able to overcome the adversity that most teenagers face which is depending on fast-food as our main food source, he understands that most people would not be able to transform this behaviour.
He then explains the statistics regarding research that has been done on health disorders related to the consumption of fast food. These disorders include diabetes and obesity which are the two main health concerns faced by consumers of fast food today. In his article, Zinczenko reveals the research done by National Institute of Heath showing that “type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 30 percent of all new childhood cases of diabetes” (2). In the early nineteen-nineties however, diabetes was generally the result of a genetic disorder. He blames the rise in these disorders on the “the lack of information about what, exactly, people are consuming” (pg. 2). Consumers are not provided with the correct nutritional facts about what they are ordering at fast-food restaurants unless they are specifically asked for by the consumer. Although, Zinczenko quickly points out that even when consumers are provided with the nutritional facts, they are not provided in an explicit way that would make it easier for consumers to understand exactly how many calories they are putting into their bodies. Unlike the grocery items which contain calorie information charts, fast-food packaging lack this information that would help consumers make wise, and healthy choices regarding what they eat. Nonetheless, there is one more major factor that contributes to this issue.
Uninformative advertisements also alter people’s ability to make informed choices about the food they consume. As Zinczenko specifies, “advertisements don’t carry warning labels the way tobacco ads do” (2). Marketers are often misleading in how they present their food which causes individuals to deem unhealthy food as healthy. Another concern with fast-food advertisements is that they are targeted to attract children. Often times children – especially teenagers – fall prey to faulty advertisements because they are not provided with any nutritional facts.
In conclusion, Zinczenko shows us unless consumers begin to think rationally and make informed choices, there will continue to be a rise in the obesity and diabetes rates, especially among children because of uninformative advertisements and the lack of nutritional information being provided.