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I was browsing through this article here: [URL="http://www.newsweek.com/id/177587"][U]America’s Top Killer: Us[/U][/URL] and found it to be an interesting read. The whole idea is that: [quote]A new study argues our personal choices cause more than 1 million premature deaths a year. What, if anything, should the government do to protect us from ourselves?[/quote] It certainly raises some interesting questions in respects to personal accountability and responsiblity for one's decisions. I don't completely buy into the concept that our poor choices result in an early death.

And my first thought is to say... but what about [insert scenario here]. However I do think one has to draw the line somewhere when it comes to realizing that you make your own choices. What you eat, whether or not you exercise regularly or smoke is a personal choice. And there's no denying that if you're honest with yourself, everyone has habits or behaviors that if not kept in check, could be destructive.

So do you think there's any truth in what the article says? Do you have habits that you're trying to break? Or do you think it's just a bunch of nonsense? And what are your thoughts on government intervention?
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[font=franklin gothic medium]I think that the stats reported in this article are probably right and are probably a reflection of society in general.

But as you point out, the question is to what extent should people be getting a helping hand (or some kind of actual intervention).

It's such a complex area, because there are some areas where I do believe that intervention is necessary (like, for instance, schools ensuring that they stock and promote healthy food - or, that food manufacturers appropriately label all products).

Much of the "intervention" that is needed, though, is in the form of "nudges" I think - much like the article suggests. It's better, for instance, to [i]encourage[/i] healthy living by promoting innovations, choices and positive messages rather than diving in and banning something.

Ultimately I think we'll all make decisions that aren't the best for us. For instance, I had coffee this morning. I don't often drink it, but sometimes I do. Coffee isn't really great to have in the morning for a variety of reasons (including dehydration), yet I still sometimes drink it anyway.

Is it doing me any longterm damage? Possibly. Doubtful though.

Nevertheless, it begs the question: do I stop drinking coffee completely? Do I basically stop [i]any[/i] enjoyable or relaxing activity because it can have some detrimental effects?

There are some doctors and nutritionists who talk about this and say that moderate intake of "bad" foods (like coffee, chocolate, etc) is actually a [i]good[/i] thing.

The idea is simple. If you live an entirely healthy lifestyle but get no real pleasure from your food (especially if you really punish yourself with very bland food), then the net effect is actually negative - because you never feel satisfied and you are less able to cope with stress, etc...

However if you eat chocolate now and then, you're not only giving yourself an indulgence that makes you happy, but you're actually releasing endorphins that help to relax and "de-stress" you. If done in moderation, the idea is that this is actually a net positive for your health because you're considering both physical [i]and[/i] mental health.

So you know, there are a lot of different perspectives on this.

Plus, some foods and chemicals are worse for different groups of people. Different people's bodies have different reactions and intolerances. It's so hard to generalize on an issue like this.

My general bottom line though, is that it has to always be about choice. You should be able to make an unhealthy choice if you want, so long as you aren't hurting others.

For instance, you should be allowed to smoke and drink, so long as you aren't smoking in an enclosed space with others or getting drunk in public.

I generally don't believe in the whole nanny state solution, because if anything, I think it takes away our ability to make good decisions - instead we pass the buck and become reliant on the state. This also means that when something goes wrong, we blame the state rather than ourselves.

For me it'll always come back to the freedom to make choices and with that, the maturity to take responsibility.[/font]
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