Extreme diets take toll on moral capacity of young generation

June 5, 2008 — by Alex Song and Lyka Sethi

It’s not unusual for a healthy person to go to a restaurant that serves plenty of tasty, nutritious foods only to order an over-priced plain salad because he or she is “watching their weight.”

As portrayed by all of the latest celebrity blogs and trendy magazines, skinny is definitely in. Going to the gym for hours on end is a must for many young guys and girls of this new, superficial, appearance-driven era. True health has been put on the backburner for fear of increasing the number on the digital scales lying in bathrooms of nearly every American household. What’s ironic is that being “healthy” is often simply an excuse used to justify meager diets.

These diets are not only dangerous to a person’s well-being but are also selfish. Passing up a hearty meal to keep one’s figure is an ungrateful and even unfair action. Buying food from a restaurant or grocery store and letting it sit and rot without feeding someone is an utter waste.

To many people, food is not a right. Not everyone is guaranteed a meal three times a day, seven days a week; there are many people in the world who, on a daily basis, walk the streets with swollen bellies and bony limbs, desperately searching for something to eat.

What’s sad is that this unfortunate cycle of buy-and-toss is not rare. With increasing knowledge and understanding of the hunger and poverty in this world, it’s amazing how all those who strive for that perfect body can be so ignorant.
Diets, however, can also be used as a means for an all-around healthier lifestyle if guided by a doctor or nutritionist, though many times even those who do need diets for medical reasons use the word “diet” just as loosely as any selfish teen. Left to their own devices, dieters who need it will just as often skip meals and follow fads, all the while averting their attention from reports of nations of starving people.

Thus, the fad of dieting can be seen as a moral dilemma. In a 2008 survey by the Second Harvest Food Bank, food aid required by impoverished American families alone has gone up since last year. The organization has since requested $100 million in emergency funds from congress to meet the current food crisis.

Even as the United States strives to help the poor in both Third World countries and at home, millions of its inhabitants are also wasting precious food for the sake of how others perceive them. It’s hypocrisy in action.

The next time any preteen drama queen goes on a diet or complains about her waistline, she should think about her own intentions and convictions. Teenagers in general must decide whether they are dieting to become healthier and stronger or merely digging themselves deeper into graves of skewed body images. No one will gain anything from the latter.