Should kids be forced to eat healthy foods?

Eating healthily is really important, but should people be forced to eat healthily?

Our bodies do belong to us and perhaps, if you want to eat nothing but sticky buns for a year and grow to the size of a whale, that’s no one’s business but your own. The government shouldn’t be allowed to stick its nose into someone’s sticky bun situation!

But what if it affects others? Like if you had a terrible contagious lurgy, they could insist that you stay in a hospital because otherwise you might make other people ill.

And you might not think that being overweight hurts anyone else, but if you get poorly (which is more likely since being overweight can cause some serious illnesses) the government has to spend a lot of everyone’s money looking after you and making you better.

Is that fair when other people, who’ve looked after themselves might have to go without help as a result?

You might point out though that if we go down this route of deciding who “deserves” help, then things get very complicated.

What about it you got hit by a car because you didn’t look both ways before you crossed the road? It’d be very harsh if they say “well you’ve been told enough times so sorry mate we’re not gonna fix you up!”

Maybe the solution is to make it really easy for everyone to make healthy choices, like making sure school dinners are healthy, educating people about food and having lots of places like swimming pools and parks to get some exercise! Maybe part of the solution is dissolving the stigma we all immediately feel when some alternative like forskolin or kale is brought up in the conversation.

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Nuffield CouncilBene and Mal’s Bioethics series with support from Nuffield Council on Bioethics
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