Good health is every prudent individual’s and governments’ joint responsibility. Good health in this case not only applies to the physical well-being of an individual but also includes mental and spiritual wholeness (Glanz, Rimer, & Viswanath, 2008). Good health as a responsibility implies that every individual must make an effort to acquire good health and be held accountable for his/her physical and mental well-being. The government is also responsible for availing good health as an option by ensuring health care is accessible and affordable for everyone. Individuals, to a certain extent, are accountable to themselves and to other people for their physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The society, to a certain extent, is also responsible for people’s health.
Usually, good health is a result of proper nutrition, physical fitness, mental sanity and well-being, all of which are majorly a result of deliberate decisions made by individuals. Proper nutrition and good eating habits go a long way in ensuring an individual stays healthy. Lack of meals is a potential cause of depression not only in the developing world but also in the developed nations. In the economies that are not performing, the ability of citizens to meet the basic needs is hampered. In such a nation, the citizens result to violence.
Robbing people to forcefully find something to eat becomes the order of the day. Illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart diseases are among the leading causes of death in the United States. These conditions are also a direct result of poor eating habits. Poor eating habits, in this case, include too much consumption of food and drinks containing harmful ingredients and too much calories. Other diseases are caused by the supply of too much nutrients to the body; for example, diabetes is caused by the supply of excess sugars. Such diseases can be controlled by regulating the amount of food we consume (Fulponi, 2009). It is bad enough that junk food has become the commonest meal in the United States of America; individuals do not exercise physically, which has a great influence on health.
An average American adult’s lifestyle is usually too busy. It is difficult to make time for decent healthy meals every day. It is easier for busy individuals to forego healthy eating and physical exercise simply because it is easier for them, and they can do that. There are numerous cases of individuals succumbing to illnesses such as diabetes and heart diseases, which are preventable. Individuals’ responsibility stems from the fact that these individuals can choose to lead healthier lifestyles, but they do not (Wadley, 2010).
Societal responsibility, on the other hand, stems from amenities that should be provided by the society that have a direct effect on individuals’ health. These include the supply of drinking water, refuse disposal and sewage systems. The society in this case is responsible for ensuring proper sanitation, clean drinking water and a healthy environment. Schools should be held accountable for the kind of nutrition they offer children in schools. They are also responsible for the students’ physical activities. They decide what physical activities students take part in, how long they engage in physical activities, and whether or not these activities are compulsory. They also decide the kinds of food stuff available to students. As much as individuals decide whether or not to consume junk food, their poor eating habits are supported by the easy availability of junk food in schools, if not all workplaces and homes. Access to these foods has been made easy by the availability of vending machines for junk food and soft drinks in schools, at the workplace, in malls and in strategic points in cities and towns.
As for mental well-being, the societies as well as individuals play a major role. This especially applies to mental illnesses that result from drug abuse or stress. The society is responsible for ensuring that its members live in a stress-free environment. They can do this by making sure neighbourhoods are safe, supporting policies against overworking and ensuring the minorities are protected from all kinds of abuse whether physical, verbal or emotional and generally assisting poor people, especially those who lack basic needs such as shelter, clothing and food.
The society should be held responsible for educating the public, especially on the dangers of poor eating habits and the lack of exercise. They need to ensure that the public makes informed choices, especially in response to adverts. Advertising has been found to affect individuals’ decisions concerning consumption, because it impacts psychological choices. Junk food manufacturers and sellers have taken advantage of the effect advertising plays on people’s psychology and decision-making to encourage the consumption of junk food. The society is responsible for ensuring that the population is fully informed, especially of the dangers of consuming these foods.
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America is one of the biggest spenders on health care and medical care. Yet many of the illnesses that require vast resources, expensive equipments and expensive medication are conditions that result from leading an unhealthy lifestyle. For instance, cancer equipment is one of the most expensive medical equipment. Treating diabetes is also an expensive venture. Both conditions result from poor eating habits. It is important to remember that the vast amounts of money spent on health care every year are covered by tax payers. This, of course, is in a bid to ensure that health care is readily available since everyone has a right to health care and medication. However, this has brought the issue of moral hazard in the country.
People choose risky lifestyles and are not keen on observing healthy lifestyles partly because medical care is so readily available should they succumb to any illness. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that this money is not spent unnecessarily. Illnesses that can be prevented should be prevented by all means, and vast amounts of tax payers’ money should be saved. Tax payers should not be forced to pay for persons who choose risky lifestyles. In this case, individuals have a responsibility towards tax payers not to burden them unnecessarily with having to finance treatment for medical conditions that are easily preventable. Individuals are responsible for protecting against future illnesses. For instance, it is their responsibility to ensure they have medical cover at all times just in case.
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In cases where the population appears ignorant or indifferent on the dangers of certain lifestyles, the society is responsible for protecting them from themselves. For instance, they can increase taxes on alcohol and cigarettes to discourage those who regard these as an affordable guilty pleasure and yet cannot afford to treat an illness resulting from these habits. Banning smoking in other areas is also a responsibility of the society, especially in order to protect passive smokers. It should be an offence to smoke in public, because it puts the health of other people at risk (Olaru 2008).
In conclusion, it is very difficult to protect people from themselves since the decision of eating well and living healthy is innate. Chronic smokers continue to smoke in spite of serious coughing bouts. The society seems to be of the notion that they do not endanger other people’s lives; they should be left to their own devices. Individuals can also succumb to illnesses unrelated to their lifestyles, and in such cases, the society is responsible for ensuring they can readily access medical care whether or not they can afford it.
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