When I see a commercial for diet pills, diets that restrict the body of nutritional essentials, or programs that claim you can lose substantial weight in very short periods of time, I cringe. After watching friends and family fall into this trap over and over again without reaching their goals, I became tired of seeing them trying these temporary fixes and becoming frustrated that they didn’t work long term. For example, the Atkins diet. This diet wants to cut out carbs and increase protein consumption. Does it work? Yes, I’ve seen people lose weight from this diet. However, if you remove carbs from your diet, your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to properly function, making this diet short term. Then when the diet ends, the problem wasn’t fixed, and weight gets put back on.
In business school, students are taught to look for pain points, and create and market products to alleviate the pain. So naturally when the pain point is obesity, methods to lose weight quickly such as the Adkins diet will be very popular. However, this strategy doesn’t pass business ethics. Sticking with the Atkins diet example, if a middle-aged man with high blood pressure and high cholesterol adopts the high protein diet and only eats Pork and Beef for a month to lose weight, this could pose a serious health risk. Not only is he not getting proper nutrients or energy, but he is continually increasing his blood pressure and cholesterol. Then when he continues to eat poorly when off the diet, gains weight, and goes back on the Atkins diet a year later, his health will further decline. Pain point solved, right?
Wrong. Although profitable, the morality behind marketing products that are supposed to aid in weight loss, but instead can hurt one’s health is iffy. So what should the middle-aged man do to get his summer body? What he needs is a lifestyle change. He needs to eat healthier and exercise, it’s really that simple. The problem is he doesn’t know how to properly exercise or eat healthier, so he turns to what is marketed to him, which is far more convenient when he has a busy job and extensive social calendar.
Millions of Americans are in this position when it comes to weight loss. They are trying, but ultimately failing. Government leaders have created national movements and education programs to stop the obesity epidemic, but that often just translates to a few headlines about exercising more on NBC. So what can we do to stop obesity? The government isn’t making much headway, businesses are trying to sell product not solutions, and frankly we as Americans are not doing much to help, especially with the “big is beautiful” campaigns. Big can be beautiful, that is until you get diabetes. Like many large movements, this needs to start at the grassroots level, within the culture of small communities. If more of us decide to learn about exercise and nutrition, then spread the word to our friends and families, slowly healthy living will become standard vocabulary. The more we talk about it, the more likely we are to take action. Then as we all start taking action to get ourselves, friends, and family out of obesity, then soon healthy living will be a habit.
So let’s start with helping one another, and before we know it we will make America healthy again.