Friday, December 2, 2011

Putting the cart before the horse, Businesses Pledge 'Healthier Choices' for Customers

NPR ran a nice story this morning about the obesity epidemic and a movement to ask Businesses to provide us with different, healthier, food choices.  To an extent the obesity epidemic is about food choices, supposedly, maybe, and just as supposedly different healthier food choices will decrease obesity.  Of course the modern food system is rife with ridiculous food-like substances and we as a culture have lost track of real food.  So I agree with the thrust of what they're talking about here - real food, good quality food, actual real enjoyment from real food, wonderful.

But I felt uncomfortable and eventually it clicked in my mind.  They are talking about this issue backwards.  The format is for Business to Change what it Does so that we have better choices available.  And, yes, Business plays a role because the choices made by Business do limit the choices we can make.

But this strikes me as a top-down approach to introducing Change.  The wave of Change in this case is bubbling down from on high, in this case First Lady Michelle Obama is the honorary Director of the Partnership for a Healthier America who organized the summit talked about in the piece below.  The PHA is a public/private/non-profit partnership (that is, Government, Business and Non-Profit) whose mission is to "broker meaningful commitments and develop strategies to end child obesity."

Uh.. sounds to me like an effort to build an organization that doesn't do anything meaningful, but to just create strategies and publish opinion papers or something.

What will make an actual difference is to change the habits of we the people.  Not just the food we eat, but the living patterns.  When they focus on food choices regarding obesity they're ignoring the sedentary lifestyle and its effect on obesity.  Obesity can be combated simply by getting off our butts and moving around more.  Instead of driving to work (sedentary) ride a bicycle instead, for example.  Or take a walk through your neighborhood every day.

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