Nutrition and Ethics

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Nutrition is a global health issue for everyone around the world. I would like to shine a light on nutrition because I feel as people do not really think much of it. We live in a world where we are either overweight, obese or malnourished. Food has become the world’s greatest health challenge. It was said that half a billion people are still undernourished worldwide. Alessandro R Demalo said it best in his article ‘5 reasons why ‘food’ is a massive global health issue’ “In addition to half a billion people still undernourished worldwide – today diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and lung disease, are the leading cause of global deaths.” 80% of disease burden low and middle-income countries from malnutrition and 500 billion people are either prediabetic meaning they are on the verge of being diabetic or they are already diabetic.

I believe that nutrition is a really important topic because it has been scientifically proven that with the right foods in your body you are a happier and healthier you. I chose to explore this topic because I have a big passion for targeting this global health issue when I get my bachelors. I am working hard in getting my degree as a registered dietitian nutritionist. Also, this topic hit home with me, meaning I can relate to this topic so much. You see growing up I had parents that always struggled with their weight, both my mother and father were obese at one point in their life. My dad is now older and struggles with type II diabetes, my mom struggles with iron deficiency.

My sister has always been obese as well and now struggles with losing weight, she’s at high risk for heart diseases not only did not eating right really put her at risk for her health, she also struggles with depression, she ‘hates’ her body and doesn’t love herself. It makes me so sad that these are the word’s she has chosen to describe herself. As for me, because of food, a healthy good nutrient food I was able to love myself again. I never struggled with being heavy or overweight. But I did struggle to gain weight. Ever since I was little people would always look at me like I was disgusting for being ‘too skinny’. I used to come home crying from school because people would always say I am a ‘walking skeleton’ or they would constantly ask me ‘don’t you ever eat?’

Apparently, I was just ‘skin and bones.’ I wasted so much time not feeling ‘pretty.’ Later that year I got diagnosed with depression. I got professional help, I went to go see a counselor. After that year of my life, everything changed. I got so interested in nutrition, the science behind it, and then came to my fitness journey where I learned so much. This became such a HUGE part of my life and now I am looking to make a profession out of it. Nutrition is both so complex and controversial because there is not a universal diet for all men or women. We are all unique individuals that need different nutrients in our bodies. This dilemma lacks a clear-cut solution because not everyone in the world will be able to come in contact with good nutrition.

What is the right thing to do when it comes to fixing this global health issue? The article, Nutrition: ethical issues and challenges by Robert B Rucker state “For nutrition and associated disciplines, the development of clear ethical guidelines for research and practice is wrought with complexity. For example, few scientific disciplines are defined by cultural, religious, or political codifications or laws as is nutrition. Moreover, few disciplines have such direct links to product marketing. Accordingly, nutrition is often viewed as controversial because of a need for policies and ethical approaches to aid in resolving areas of conflict (eg, marketing self-interests or conflicts of interests related to funding).”

There are so many countries that are malnourished and in the richer countries like the united states, there are people struggling with being overweight or obese. All 3 of these issues bring bigger health issues such as heart disease, type II diabetes, different types of cancers and the list goes on. Nutrition is so complex when it comes to ethics, as most things in science are. It conflicts with religion and politics. Out of the five major ethics point of view, nutrition targets three. The three that I would like to talk about is utilitarianism, Kantian, and divine command. Utilitarianism is a particular principle or system’s actions being useful and benefiting the majority. Kantian is the ethic that acts on everyone regardless of interests and desires. Divine command is the obedience to God’s command.

It is based on all actions being morally right because that is what God would have required. In my opinion, utilitarianism would say that our system with food and nutrition now works for everyone, but I think that if everyone thought this way it would also say to help the malnourished countries. I think it would say this because our system now ‘works’ for the majority of people. This viewpoint would be useful in this issue if everyone had the same nutritional status, meaning the guidelines for what we have now would help everyone the same. Kantian would also say something along the lines of utilitarianism because it acts on everyone regardless of what it is you believe or want. Except I think this would have to do more on the choices of food. Some countries may not want to eat a certain animal or type of food based on religion, but Kantian would say ”eat it’ if you want to survive, it may be the only choice they have to get a proper nutrition.

A divine command would have to do a lot with religion, I think that with the divine command it would be more of their pick and choose how they want to live in the world. To those that have more than others, I think that divine command would say that what God would want is for them to help. I think that when it comes down to it Kantian is what is most useful in my opinion with helping everyone survive. I would choose this ethic because it acts on all people and at the end of the day it is what would keep them alive. An example would be that in some cases one might argue that this might be condemning in their cultural practices. I know that many other countries and people all around the world practice different cultural and religious habits that might cause health disparities.

This might look like I would be judging and trying to change the way their cultures work, instead of accepting different cultures. But my argument would be that their practices involve high amounts of health risks and that they should be addressed. In my case, it would be morally wrong of me to just let it be. In my case, I would educate them and give them healthier alternatives to what they practice. I would embrace their differences and uniqueness by not trying to take their practices away but by helping them find healthier ways to practice and embrace their cultures.

Nutrition is the starting point for a better healthy you. I think that nutrition is the most challenging global health issue we have today. Because of the fact that there are so many different diseases out in the world that is caused by unhealthy foods, so many countries that do not have access to good nutrition. I think we should take a stand-in doing more research on how to better system. In an ideal world, I would fund more money into things that have to do with our food choices. I would different varieties of research going on.

“Nutrition has often been forgotten in the food security mandate. Most of the dialogue and focus of the conversation has been on aspects of the unjust way our food is produced. There has been less dialogue on the inequities in access to high quality, nutritious foods and in food choices. This leaves the public confused about what ethical individual choices they should make, who to trust, and what roles the government ought to play in solving the issues. Without more thoughtful debate and proposed paths around the ethics of nutrition and how it fits into our globalized food system, inequities will persist.”

States Jessica Franzo in the article Ethical issues for human nutrition in the context of global food security and sustainable development. The ethical viewpoint that I think would best be associated with this global health issue is Kantian. This viewpoint would be useful because it is something everyone in the world would benefit from. As for the other viewpoints, I wouldn’t say that they would not be useful to me, all ethical viewpoints fit in somewhere, but what I would want to create is something useful for everyone, regardless if they do not like it or if it is not what they want.

The main thing here would be to survive and live a better and healthier life. The problems that come in play with my viewpoint would be that even though it would help everyone, it would still be somewhat selfish because it would probably be going against what different cultures believe to be right and would also go against some religious beliefs. My position applies to everyone everywhere around the world, the big picture that I drew was to have some of the low income and mid-income countries find some kind of guidance and better food quality to survive.

Richer countries such as the US find some kind of motivation to stop putting junk in their bodies. To be completely honest, I was surprised at some of my ethical values. I was always split in between doing what is best and right for everyone regardless of religion and political views. To honoring and respecting what everyone would want in their country. Overall what I realized about social contexts of problems an ethics in global health is that it is impossible to win. You cannot please everyone.


  1. Demaio, A. R. (2018, August 30). Five Reasons Why ‘Food’ Is A Massive Global Health Issue. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/five-reasons-why-food-is-a-massive-global-health-issue-21255
  2. Ethical issues for human nutrition in the context of global food security and sustainable development. (2015, December 02). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211912415300158
  3. Nutrition: Ethical issues and challenges. (2016, October 20). Retrieved from. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531716302081?via=ihub
  4. Görman, U. (2018). Some ethical issues raised by personalized nutrition. [online] PubMed. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2474902/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].
  5. Ehp.niehs.nih.gov. (2018) The Role of Nutrition Mitigating Environmental Insults: Policy and Ethical Issues. [online] Available at: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/pdf/10.1289/ehp.95103s6185 [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018]

Cite this paper

Nutrition and Ethics. (2021, Mar 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/nutrition-and-ethics/

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