The Source of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is a dangerous, ever-growing epidemic, which spans all categories of ethnicity, race, and family income.  Obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years, which means that if this trend continues American children may face a shorter expected lifespan than their parents.  The health consequences of this disease are numerous and alarming; heart disease, type II diabetes, several types of cancer, and are common consequences.  Prevention measures include educating children on the dangers of obesity, encouraging regular physical activity, teaching how to eat in moderation, and providing healthy food options in the child’s home.  Not surprisingly, eating habits as young children often escalate with age, and therefore most children who are obese have a seventy percent chance of becoming overweight as an adult.  For this reason, drastic measures need to be taken in order to prevent bad habits and overeating in children so as to prevent repercussions later on.

While there are many causes for obesity in children, the most pressing and direct reasons for childhood overweight in America is due to the unhealthy methods the food manufactures inflict on the diets of children.  Companies are so profit driven that they are misleading consumers, falsely advertising, and adding unhealthy preservatives to all food groups.  Most of the food corporations make the majority of their profit by marketing to children, who are not developed enough to make informed decisions about what foods they should be consuming.  Furthermore, food companies are adding inordinate amounts of sugar, salt, and fat to everyday products such as milk, cereal, and sauce, so even the healthy products are considered dangerous.

Watch this great video about the sugar, salt, and fat that food companies add to children’s foods.

Parents are no longer confidant that they are providing the necessary nutrients children need in their food.  In order to address the issue head on, the federal government needs to pass more legislation to regulate advertisements on television, levy federal and state excise taxes on sugared beverages and processed foods, and communicate more effectively with the public as to what they are consuming.

Many attempts have been made in the past to address this issue from different angles.  Organizations and lobbyists have tried to pass legislation to regulate big companies in the food industry, but many corrupt businesses continue pay legislators for their support.  Furthermore, The Obamas health initiative, many obesity action coalitions, and other national movements have tried to raise awareness of the disease and encourage Americans to create healthier environments for their families.  However, these organizations can only do so much when the food and beverage industry has created such a powerful influence over the government.  Although these methods are a good start, strict government action is needed in order to end the disease once and for all.  For this white paper, I am addressing the federal and state legislators, and explaining the causes and solutions that they should take to regulate the food and beverage industry and prevent childhood obesity once and for all.

Calculate your BMI here!


Dear Diary 4.23.23

Dear diary,

In a few minutes my family will be at my apartment to visit!  It’s been a few months since I last visited them, and I’m excited to see them for the next couple of days.  I already went shopping and checked off all of things on my to do list before they arrived: buy groceries, clean my apartment, and buy a new dress.  Here’s what my day looked like.

First I started with the groceries.  I had to wait in the car for over an hour, but at least I had the television on so I wasn’t bored.  The air conditioning is blasting since it is so hot outside.   I remember I kept looking at my watch, afraid I wouldn’t finish in time.  I love my new watch; it’s the apple one that is almost clear so it looks like you are not wearing anything on your wrist at all.  I slid my finger over the “slide to unlock” bar and play some music.

My car doesn’t have a radio since they are essentially obsolete.  Everything I could need, the news and my music is all in my watch, so I can take it anywhere.  It’s okay that I didn’t pay attention to the road, since my car is completely automatic.  When I enter my final location in the GPS it drives me to my destination without me having to use the steering wheel.

Once I arrived at the grocery store, I found a parking spot in front.  The minute I opened my car door, I was hit with a wave of heat.  It’s April, but its already 102 degrees.  I walked quickly into the grocery store, hoping to escape this extreme weather.  Once inside, I went over the mental list of grocery items in my head.  All of the food in sight organic, so I am able to find healthy options quickly.  I chose the food I know my family will enjoy, and then I went over to the pill section.

Although they are small, the meals as pills are a great way to get the nutrients I need.  Even better, I don’t have to prepare them and I don’t have to worry about calories.  The pills release different flavors that are close to the taste of real food.  I also don’t have to worry about preparing my meals or accidentally adding the wrong ingredient.  I have a great meal instantly that I know my parents will enjoy.  I purchased a few variations and paid in the front of the store.

After I got my meals in pill form, I drove to the clothing store to buy a new dress.  I didn’t have to worry about trying the clothing on, because there is an assimilated mirror that will show me what I will look like in the outfit without changing.  I picked out a few things, and saw how they look on me in the “mirror.”  It’s not exact, but it’s pretty similar to how I would look in the clothing if I had actually tried it on.  I chose the ones I liked best and paid automatically at the front desk.  There is no one there to ring me up, but one swipe with my credit card on the little machine is all it takes to purchase my dresses.

Since all my errands are done, I am now home.  I unpacked the pills and put on one of my new dresses.  I already cleaned my apartment and set up a guest room for when they arrive.

I just heard the doorbell!  I’ll write later.

A small way to help

It’s the little things that can help.

Over Christmas break I was at LaGuardia airport with my family.  While I was waiting to board, I decided I would use the restroom.  After washing my hands in the bathroom, I was surprised that there were no paper towels to dry my hands.  After searching the bathroom for some time, I finally discovered this machine:

I hesitantly put my hands inside and was shocked; it completely dried my hands in less than 10 seconds.  Even better, I didn’t waste paper, I didn’t spread germs (its automatic, so you never actually make contact with it), and best of all uses less energy than older hand dryer models.

My proposal to help the world is to add these hand driers in all the bathrooms at Bucknell.  Although they are a more expensive option, these would eliminate paper towels in all the bathrooms and therefore put an end to wasting paper.  Furthermore, these hand dryers are an upgrade from the previous ones that typically take longer and do not dry your hands completely.  Most bathrooms offer paper towels and the older model hand dryers so people can choose which ever they prefer, but with these new hand dryers people won’t have to make a choice.  It dries your hands almost instantly, you don’t spread germs, and there is no trash to clean.  I believe if we make this small adjustment, we would be helping the environment in a small but effective way.


American Express’s Intentions

Can consequentialism always be considered ethical?  In 1963 American Express faced potential bankruptcy when Anthony De Angelis, the founder of Allied Crude Vegetable Oil Refinery, swindled inspectors in an attempt to corner the olive oil market.  Many people argued that American Express made the ethical decision to absorb the debt incurred by Allied, even though the Oil Company was guilty of obtaining massive loans through falsified collateral.   However, I want to take a different approach, and argue that American Express did not act ethically if they only absorbed the debt in an effort to maintain their public image or obtain a loyal customer base long term.  Linda Treviño and Katherine Nelson provide insight in their book, Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk About How to Do It Right, by arguing that intent is crucial in in determining what is considered right or wrong, and not the actions themselves.  In addition, Stephen Darwell, the author of Consequentialism, also discusses the distinguishing qualities of consequentialist ethics and how they differ from deontology.  In this essay, I will argue that American Express’s actions were a direct example of consequentialism, and how this way of thinking is not always entirely ethical.

Anthony De Angelis’s scam, now known as the Great Salad Oil Swindle, started and ended with American Express.  The credit card company had recently opened a new division called “Field Warehousing”, where they would grant loans to businesses based on their inventory and commodities (Frank 1).  Inspectors were required to examine Allied’s Warehouses and determine that all the inventory was in order.  Once approved, American Express would issue receipts to the manufacturer that could be exchanged for loans from banks with the inventory as collateral.  The founder of Allied allocated some of this money towards buying futures in oil, which would allow him to own soon to be expensive oil and the futures he had purchased would be worth considerably more (Frank 1-2).  Soon, the exchanges became more regular, and Allied became one of the most profitable companies for American Express in the Field Warehousing Department.

Once the relationship between the two companies was established, De Angelis devised a plan to fill his barrels with water and add only a small portion of olive oil to the container.  Since oil floats on water, the inspectors would open the barrels and see the small portion of oil and think the barrel was full.  De Angelis succeeded in deceiving American Express for only a year, until it was soon discovered that the amount of oil Allied claimed to have in inventory was more than the farmers had supplied (Frank 2).  On November 19, 1962, Allied went bankrupt, and left American Express with a debt that totaled around $174 million dollars.  Almost instantly the entire futures market crashed, which wiped out the entire value of the loans issued.  Furthermore, the brokerage houses that were behind De Angelis’s futures trades now had a poor reputation from association, and were forbidden from trading.  Suddenly, American Express had to make a choice: admit defeat and go bankrupt or absorb the million-dollar debt that had not been accounted for.

The choice American Express had to make is one that distinguishes consequentialist theories from many other theories of ethics, such as Deontology or Kantian Ethics.  When deciding what is considered right or wrong, consequentialists focus on the intentions of the decisions, not on the actions themselves (Treviño and Nelson 42-43).  Furthermore, consequentialist theorists focus on maximizing societal welfare instead of making the absolute “right” choice.  Treviño and Nelson compare the theories of deontology to consequentialism, “According to some deontological approaches, certain moral principles are binding, regardless of the consequences.  Therefore some actions would be considered wrong even if the consequences of the actions were good.  In other words, a deontologist focuses on what is “right” (based on moral principles or values such as honesty), where as a consequentialist focuses on doing what is right to maximize societal welfare” (Treviño and Nelson 42-43).  These authors explain that the intention of consequentialists is to focus on the end result, and not on the decisions themselves.

In the end, the American Express made the decision to absorb the debt from De Angelis’s scam.  However, one might ask, why would the company make this decision?  The first option, one that a deontologist would argue, is that the company wanted to make the right choice to be completely ethical.  A deontologist would argue that American Express did not want anyone else to suffer because of the swindle, and they decided to take the high road and help the innocent parties involved.  Treviño and Nelson describe deontology, “Deontologists base their decisions about what is right on a broad, abstract, ethical principles or values such as honesty, promise keeping, fairness, loyalty, rights, (to safety, privacy, etc.) justice responsibility, compassion, and respect for human beings and property” (Treviño and Nelson 42).  If American Express’s actions were purely for the sake of being ethical, then they would have been acting honestly, fairly, and loyally to those affected by the swindle and not seeking to benefit from the decision.

The other option, and the more likely option, is that American Express absorbed the debt to give the public the impression that they were trustworthy and honest.  This would mean that the company was not focusing on doing the right thing for the sake of being ethical, but instead for the benefits that they would reap by absorbing the debt.  This reasoning is a direct example of consequentialism, because it would mean that they were focusing on the positive consequences of their decision more than acting ethically for the sake of doing what is considered “right.”  Stephen Darwell, the author of Consequentialism, states, “What makes the values nonmoral, again, is that they involve evaluations of outcomes or states rather than distinctly moral evaluations of agency or character” (Darwell 1).  He is arguing that consequentialism focuses on the outcomes of one’s decisions, and not the “moral evaluations” of those involved.  Darwell would most likely interpret American Express’s choices by saying that they were thinking of future business and the image that they would create, instead of doing the right thing with no benefit to themselves.  This way of thinking would mean that American Express was not as ethical as they had made themselves to be since they intended to reap the benefits of their decisions and not acting entirely altruistic.

In 1965, Norman Miller covered story of Anthony De Angelis and the affect the swindle had on American Express in his book The Great Salad Oil Swindle.  While exposing the true events of the swindle, Miller discovered that American Express had been falsifying inventory inspections and receiving anonymous phone calls that warned the company that De Angelis could not be trusted.  However, Miller discovered that despite American Express’s suspicions, the company had turned a blind eye and continued to do business with Anthony De Angelis.   Miller writes, “Why did American Express Field Warehousing ignore the warning that Allied was cooked?  Was it because the storage firm could not afford to lose Allied’s business?…All hands at American Express Field Warehousing, then, were agreed it would be foolish to stop doing business with Allied” (Miller 83-83).  Since the relationship between the two companies was generating so much profit for American Express, they were reluctant to dig deeper into Allied’s operations and discover the truth.  When Allied’s swindle was made public, American Express declared that they would absorb all the debt in an attempt to make themselves appeal more ethical.  Until Miller’s book was released, many people believed that American Express was making the selfless choice to absorb the debt, and did not realize that they were reaping long-term benefits that make their actions more consequential then deontological.

American Express’s intentions are what distinguish the company’s decision from being purely ethical or acting ethical for their own benefit.  If American Express had absorbed the debt from Allied’s scandal purely for altruistic reasons, then they were adopting the principles of deontology.  However, if American Express’s intentions were focused on their own image and the appearance of acting ethically, then their actions would be more along the lines of consequentialism.   Unfortunately, we can’t know for sure what American Express’s true motives were after the Salad Oil Scandal was exposed.  However, the company’s shady relationship with Allied Crude Vegetable Oil Refinery and the evident benefit of portraying themselves as ethical lead me to believe that they did not act out of selfless reasons.  Therefore, these actions seem to lean more towards consequentialism, which is why I fervently believe that American Express’s actions are not ones of integrity, but instead are ones of self-interest.

A World without Google

What if one day you typed in in the search bar, and the words: “unable to connect to server” popped up on your screen.  What would you do?

“I don’t know, I’ll Google it” is a phrase that I probably say every day.  I can’t imagine a time when I didn’t have this search engine fired up and ready to go when there is ever something that I am unsure about.  I have set Google as my home page every time I press safari or Internet Explorer.  Google is my teacher, my parent, and my peer all in one: it provides 1,000,000 answers to a single question that I might have previously asked someone who may have the answer.  I like to think that having this resource has fueled my desire for learning and my sense of curiosity, because I find myself eager to “google” any question I may have and find millions of answers waiting for me.

I shudder to think what would happen if we no longer had Google at my fingertips.  Google has become such a necessary part of my daily life that living without it seems terrifying.  Researching a topic for school would take days and not hours, finding the telephone number of a restaurant would require actually searching it in the yellow pages, and finding an address would mean searching through tons of paper maps.  These tasks have all been taken care of for us, by the ever-reliable Google.

Furthermore, the company is unparalleled in that it also has Gmail, Google Earth, Google maps, Google calendar, and Google docs, all for free.  It is not only a superior search engine, but it also connects many resources that we use on a daily basis, such as a calendar and email.  With Gmail and Google Calendar, I can now invite someone from my calendar to an event, and they will be notified by email and by pop up from the calendar about the event.   Therefore, Google not only is an incredible search engine, but it also saves time, money, and space.

Sometimes we use the convenience of Google for granted, and I think it is important to step back and realize how technology has become an integral part in our lives.  Even for this post, I “googled” images and videos that I thought would be related to the issue.  If Google suddenly disappeared, it would definitely be a rude awakening.

A More Sustainable University

The professors at the Sustainability Curriculum Seminar discussed how Bucknell is changing the course curriculum to educate students in creating a more sustainable world.  The professors wanted to make sure that students who graduate from Bucknell have acquired the skills necessary to use resources more efficiently and protect biological diversity.   In the engineering department, Professor DiStefano discussed how they are adding three mandatory courses to the curriculum and additional electives that can be related to engineering as well.  In the management department, Professor Hiller discussed how they have now divided the management school into four degrees, sustainability being one of them.  She posed the question, “what are the kinds of things people will need to manage the future?”  The new courses will educate Bucknell students on how to create a more sustainable world.   Then Professor Susman began to discuss the Bucknell in Nicaragua program, and the importance of the links between society as a whole and the individual parts.  He argued that society should continue to maintain environmental sustainability and prepare a community to address any conflicts or surprises.  Lastly, the final speaker, Professor Griffin, discussed the integrated programs that would be co-taught with people in different divisions and model the process of interdisciplinary issues.  This model of teaching would embody the liberal arts education with a range of classes that students can take to get a well rounded education.

I like the changes that the different schools are making to teach students specifically about sustainability and better prepare them for jobs outside of Bucknell.  However, as Management Major, I was concerned that the new sustainability program seemed to cut out some of the classes that I had been required to take.  What I enjoy most about the major is that I can take a wide range of classes within the School of Management and then decide what career path I want to take based on those classes.  If I hadn’t been required to take classes such as Accounting 161 and Microeconomics, I might have settled in one area of business too early and not have realized that my interest lied elsewhere.  The Management Majors now will have to pick an area of focus within the four degrees and may miss out on other classes that they could have taken.  That said, I do agree that some more sustainability classes would be beneficial to better educate students on the subject, so overall I do like the additional courses Bucknell now offers.