Increase Prices for Change

Psychology of Change

By: Nikki Nies

I found this NY Times article extremely interesting and pertinent to the growing obesity epidemic in America. It talks about the wave of restaurants posting the calories on their menus, but the lack of substantial difference it has made on consumer’s food choices.

So, although on paper it would make sense that people would steer clear of certain items based on caloric content, the article explains why people seem to still opt for unhealthier choices.  Even the author explains he chooses the chicken salad sandwich, which is 213 calories more than tuna salad sandwich, since as he puts it, the taste of mayo trumps the extra calories he’ll be consuming.   Does that mean the future of America’s doomed? No, NY Times highlights how America has decreased the number of people who smoke when it was such a mainstream activity. Even 30 years ago, would you have thought the number of smokers would be down so much?

I decided to copy and paste the direct message from this article because I couldn’t have said it better myself. So…

Healton, an authority on tobacco use in particular, noted that the principal reasons for the remarkable decrease in smoking in New York City and elsewhere over the last few decades weren’t ominous commercials and warning labels. They were taxes and the bans on indoor smoking. People kicked the habit when it became onerous, in cost and convenience, not to.

Farley, the health commissioner, agreed. “The structural things were more effective for smoking than the information was,” he said. And that — not any itch to play nanny — is why he and Mayor Michael Bloomberg support such measures as new taxes on sodas, which may never happen, and a ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces, which is in legal limbo.

The healthcare industry should focus more on preventive care and yes, there’s hope in the future. With the controversy of the soda ban in NY, people flung their arms up, stating if that’s taken away from, what’s next? Perhaps, complete banning of sugary foods and fast food isn’t the answer, but hiking up prices.

I understand increasing the price of fast food is easier said than done. Mega corporations that have gained success with dollar menus are going to fight such changes, but isn’t the health of the nation more important than a business? McDonald’s is not hurting in any way. In the long run, more money would be made in the long run as people will be living longer. There’s a lot to be done to curb the obesity epidemic, but looking to how far we’ve come in the case of smoking is a great step forward.  There’s always going to be those that disregard all the health claims, willing to pay the extra money, but increasing the price of junk food will make people at least second guess their unhealthy purchase.

Again, I can’t get over this connection between those quitting smoking and the increased price. I feel this is a solution to obesity that could work as well. I’m excited.

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