Professor Sheila McDermott-Sipe
“Comparing Radley Balko and David Zinczenko”
David Zinczenko and Radley Balko both provide plans that they believe will lead to healthier individuals in the United States of America. However, in addressing how our food policies affect us, Zinczenko and Balko are opposed to what will facilitate a healthier population. Zinczenko makes an informed argument for the fast-food industry to better educate their clients so that they have the ability to make healthy choices (11). He uses empathy from his own life, facts from scientific organizations, and points to industry self-interest to advocate for clear and accurate food labelling to strengthen his argument as he works toward preventing child-hood obesity levels from continuing to rise at current rates. Balko argues to move the regulation for personal choice from the government to private industry in an attempt to advocate for personal liberty (9). Balko supports his argument by attacking politician and nutritionist backed policies claiming that private insurance company premium punishments for poor health will best bring about healthier individuals (1-4, 9). Both Zinczenko and Balko advocate for personal responsibility in one’s health, but Zinczenko provides an evidenced based plan that utilizes standardized nutrition information empowering people to make healthier decisions.
Both Balko and Zinczenko believe individuals should be making their own healthy decisions, however, not everyone, as Zinczenko points out, has the same access to this decision making due to the complexity of the availability of healthy food options for a portion of our population and the limited access to clear and accurate information (6-7). Zinczenko does not advocate against personal responsibility but rather highlights the need for choice and accurate information to be able to make those healthy choices(9). Zinczenko mainly advocates for the responsibility of the fast-food industry to allow for the responsible choices of their clients through accurate information (11). Balko, on the other hand, believes that people will change when they are faced with higher insurance premiums but does not address any educational components for that change (9-10).
Zinczenko brings statistics to his argument by citing the Center for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health on their tracking of the rise in health care costs attributed to diabetes and the rise of childhood type 2 diabetes (5-6). He also advocates for the fast-food industry to act in their own self-interest to protect themselves against litigation over their involvement in the rising numbers of childhood obesity-related type 2 diabetes (Zinczenko 11). Zinczenko does this by drawing similarities to the tobacco industry who has lost many liability litigations for continuing to advertise a product that has scientifically proven health risks without acknowledging those risks (10).
Balko on the other hand makes claims about the cost of his personal health care and insurance going up because of other people’s health conditions without cited sources to show how those cost increases actually occur (5). Balko makes many false equivalencies in his article lacking evidence to support his claims. For example, he makes the leap from federally controlled health care to restrictions on the types of food that businesses can offer in their stores and restaurants (Balko 6). He in turn ignores statistics of the relatively lower cost of health care in countries who do have universal “socialized” healthcare like our neighbor to the north, Canada (Abrams).
Both Zinczenko and Balko are addressing different audiences and it is apparent they are utilizing ideas that will speak to these respective audiences. Zinczenko in his op-ed to the New York Times addresses a subscription base of that paper known for its investigative journalism. Balko in his article for the Cato Institute, a think tank for Libertarian ideals, addresses a constituency that is for smaller government and free markets (Cato “About”). Balko falls short in his argument by failing to provide statistics and research that backs his claims.
Abrams, Abigail. “The U.S. Spends $2,500 Per Person on Health Care Administrative Cost. Canada Spends $550. Here’s Why.” Time, 6 Jan. 2020. https://time.com/5759972/health-care-administrative-costs/. Accessed 4/17/2021.
Balko, Radley. “What You Eat Is Your Business.” Cato Institute, Cato Institute, 7 June 2004. https://ncia.wwnorton.com/109264?chapter=2.5.2. Accessed 4/16/2021.
“About.” Cato Institute, Cato Institute. cato.org/about. Accessed 4/16/2021.
Zinczenko, David. “Don’t Blame the Eater.” New York Times, 23 Nov. 2002, Section A, Page 9. https://ncia.wwnorton.com/109264?chapter=2.5.12. Accessed 4/16/2021.
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