Rhetorical Analysis: Too Much of a Good Thing

Rhetorical Analysis: Too Much of a Good Thing “At least 25% of all Americans under age nineteen are overweight or obese, a figure that has doubled over the last 30 years. ” says Greg Crister in his article titled “Too Much of a Good Thing” which appeared on July 22, 2001 in the Los Angeles Times. In his article, Crister uses three common rhetorical strategies, ethos, pathos, and logos, in an attempt to persuade his audience, anyone raising children or interested in children’s health issues, of how prevalent this epidemic has become and provide them with some solutions as to how they can help prevent childhood obesity.
Overall, Crister’s argument succeeds and his audience walks away convinced that childhood obesity is, in fact, an epidemic that plagues children in their own country and that they must act immediately themselves to help fight the fight and insure that it does not become a problem with their own children. One common rhetorical strategy is ethos, which is the use of credible sources to support a claim.
Since Crister is a writer and not an expert on childhood obesity himself, it is important that he uses creditable sources to persuade the audience of the epidemic that childhood obesity is becoming. Crister uses ethos very well in his argument by providing current findings from reliable sources that are relevant to the immediate problem of childhood obesity. At the beginning of his article, Crister says, “Obesity,’ the U. N. roclaim[s], ‘is the dominant unmet global health issue, with Westernized countries topping the list. ” It is a common belief that the United Nations predominately only deals with epidemics that plague children in third world countries so by bringing to the audience’s attention that the U. N. is now focusing on the United States, Crister encourages them to look closer to home to see what an immediate crisis that childhood obesity has become.

By making the audience aware that childhood obesity is being treated as an epidemic by a trustworthy and knowledgeable organization such as the United Nations, Crister succeeds in persuading his audience that this is a serious issue in their own country and they are more likely to want to do whatever they can to prevent childhood obesity since it could affect their own children rather than children on the other side of the world. The rhetorical strategy pathos means to appeal to the audience’s emotions when making an argument and one way in which Crister uses pathos effectively is by his word choice.
In his article, Crister says, “Closer to home, at least 25% of all Americans under age nineteen are overweight or obese, a figure that has doubled over the last 30 years and a figure that moved the surgeon general to declare childhood obesity an epidemic. ” Knowing that, generally, parents only want the best for their children, Crister use of descriptive words, such as calling childhood obesity an epidemic, invokes a negative reaction in his audience and causes their protective, parental instincts to immediately kick in.
Most parents could never fathom their own child might be part of an epidemic of any kind so by referring to the fact that childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic itself, Crister creates a sense of urgency in his audience that in turn makes them want to act on their protective instincts by helping to prevent the spread of this epidemic. In keeping with his strong use of word choice, Crister also uses the word gluttony twice in his article and even elaborates by pointing out that gluttony is “vilified as one of the seven deadly sins. Again, the use of such strong language causes the audience take notice of the severity of childhood obesity and makes them want to do whatever they can to prevent it so that their own children are not considered gluttons or part of an epidemic. Another rhetorical strategy is logos, which means using logic, common sense, and reason to appeal to an audience. In his article, Crister uses logic to provide some solutions to help prevent childhood obesity as well as discredited some long-standing myths on how these solutions might not work.
One solution that Crister offers is when he points out the importance of teaching good eating habits early on so that overeating, one of the main causes of obesity, can be avoided. To help persuade the audience that this is an important step to take, Crister discredits the common misconception among parents that children will stop eating once they are full. Crister mentions a study led by Barbara Rolls, a nutritional scholar at Pennsylvania State University, in which she observed the eating habits of two groups of children.
Rolls found that the three year old group would stop eating once they were full, regardless of how much food they were given, but the five year old group would continue to eat, long after they were full, until everything on their plate was gone. This study helps persuade the audience that what they believed to be true about the eating habits of children might not be true after all and that it is their job to help their children learn how to develop good eating habits at an early age.
Crister goes on to point out that parents are led to believe that restricting a child’s diet will cause them to, in turn, overeat. In an effort to explain this to his audience Crister says, “The operative notion is that a child restrained from overeating will either rebel by secretly gorging when away from the table or, worse, will suffer such a loss of self-esteem that a lifetime of disastrous eating behavior will follow. ” Another solution that Crister offers is to stigmatize overeating. He says, “Of course, no one should be stigmatized for being overweight.
But stigmatizing the unhealthful behaviors that cause obesity would conform with what we know about effective health messages. ” This helps his audience see that stigmatizing overweight people might be detrimental but stigmatizing overeating itself might be one of the most logical solutions in preventing childhood obesity. Crister also notes that in the early 20th century France, when first faced with the excessive weight gain among children, they adopted the belief that meals should always be supervised by adults, food should be served in moderate proportions, and second helpings should be rare.
The French are often stereotyped for being some of the most confident people in the world so Crister ends his article with the logical, yet tongue-in-cheek statement that, ”[The French] were taught in childhood not to overeat. And it didn’t seem to do much harm to their self-esteem. ” This quote combined with his use of logos works well for Crister’s argument because they make his audience realize that what they have been led to believe in the past about restricting a child’s eating habits and how children approach eating in general might not, in fact, be true.
By discrediting all of these myths, Crister’s persuades his audience that they must take responsibility in teaching their children good eating habits early on in their lives and they become more comfortable with the idea that stigmatizing overeating as well as restricting their own child’s eating are other ways in which they can do their part in preventing childhood obesity.
Overall, Crister’s uses of ethos, pathos, and logos succeed in persuading his audience what an epidemic that childhood obesity has become and they walk with a couple of solutions to help them act immediately in helping to prevent this epidemic in their own children or children in this country. Works Cited Crister, Greg. “Too Much of a Good Thing. ” Los Angeles Times 22 July 2001. 16 November 2012 .

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