No matter how you sugar-coat it, the truth is always the truth. Chris Christie has always been obese and proud of it. He once boasted to David Letterman that he is the healthiest fat person on the planet. Likewise, Coca Cola Chief Executive Muhtar Kent has been promising for several years to create a healthier product line for the marketplace.But he has also been quoted as saying: “There is a place for all of our beverages in a healthy lifestyle.”
That’s a lot of waffling… with syrup.
So Chris Christie, who is apparently proud of his weight, but now – at age 50 – admits it may be a problem in the future, is making a change. And, of course, he is NOT doing it the old-fashioned way or the hard way. Instead, as a lesson for all Americans who aspire to greatness, he is taking the ultimate shortcut, opting for weight-loss surgery.
Meanwhile, Coca Cola, who under Kent’s leadership is determined to become a healthier organization, is making a pledge… a commitment… something just short of a promise. The pledge involves listing calories on the front and back of cans and fewer commercials and limiting ads directed at kids. You can almost see the pounds being shed.
Chris Christie once said: “Today, the biggest challenge we must meet is the one we present to ourselves. To not become a nation that places entitlement ahead of accomplishment. To not become a country that places comfortable lies ahead of difficult truths. To not become a people that thinks so little of ourselves that we demand no sacrifice from each other.” We can only assume he was not talking about cutting corners on the road to reduced weight.
Likewise, Muhtar Kent recently said: “Obesity is today’s most challenging health issue, affecting nearly every family and community across the globe. It is a global societal problem which will take all of us working together and doing our part.” For their part, Coca Cola has absolutely no intention of removing sugar-packed beverages from store shelves.
So, what can we learn about obesity from Chris Christie and Coca Cola? Pretty much nothing. So if you want to lose weight and be healthier – and I emphasize “want to” – buy yourself a pair of athletic shoes and start walking or riding or running or whatever works. Big businesses and larger than life politicians are not, never were and never will be the solutions to your problems.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if our biggest concern regarding school-age children was the weight of their backpacks… or the amount of time they spend on the Internet?
Unfortunately there is much more to worry about.
For example, the CDC estimates 173,285 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children and adolescents are treated in U.S. emergency departments each year. This does not include the hundreds and thousands of brain-jarring incidents that never get reported.
Here’s my favorite topic: Until 2004, the nutritional guidelines for the National School Lunch Program hadn’t been updated in 15 years. During that time, obesity rates among children skyrocketed. One-third of American children are either overweight or obese, with rates of diabetes and other health-related issues also showing dangerous increases. And guess what, children receive about 40 percent of their daily calories from school lunches. As for the remaining 60 percent of their calories, take a hard look in the mirror.
And then there is this…
National statistics recently released by the United States Department of Justice indicate that one out of three girls and one out of five boys will be sexually abused by the age 18. And while it is likely (according to multiple recent studies) these numbers are exaggerated, even 1 out of 100 is one too many.
Anyway, here’s the thing: our children are our future. As a former child and a current parent, I know how hard it is to make it through life unscathed. But we have to try our hardest to do our best. Watch over the children, love them and protect them. And oh yeah, especially this week, take time to be thankful for them.
According to the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, children and teens are drinking massive amounts of sugary drinks that increase the risk for obesity and diabetes.
And guess who’s to blame? According to a new report entitled: Evaluating Sugary Drink Nutrition and Marketing to Youth,” companies that are targeting young people and using more sophisticated and ubiquitous marketing tactics to reach them are the biggest problem.
And who is the biggest culprit? According to the report, “From 2008 to 2010, children’s and teens’ exposure to full-calorie soda ads on TV doubled. This increase was driven by Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper Snapple Group.”
In a recent Harvard Business Review interview, Coca Cola CEO Muhtar Kent stated that a company like Coca Cola isn’t able to cure a problem or issue as big (no pun intended) as obesity. “What we are doing,” says Kent, “is providing choice to the consumer… products with no calories, products with medium calories and products with full calories.”
Kent goes on to explain that eliminating full calorie products is not the solution because many people want full calorie products and do not suffer from obesity because they exercise. In other words, if you are fat and have diabetes, it is your own fault, not ours. You lack awareness and balance.
Meanwhile, Kent mentioned nothing about the excessive advertising. Yet, according to the report, “Two-thirds of the brands analyzed appeared during prime-time programming, totaling nearly 2,000 appearances in 2010. Coca-Cola Classic accounted for three-quarters of brand appearances seen by children and teens.”
The report concludes: “If beverage companies want to be part of the solution to the obesity crisis, they must do more to protect children and teens from marketing for sugary drinks and energy drinks.”
It would be entirely unfair to blame Coke and its CEO for the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the U.S., but it is not a bad place to start. According to its Mission, Vision and Values, “Coke must look ahead, understand the trends and forces that will shape our business in the future and move swiftly to prepare for what’s to come.”
I’d say this trend is pretty obvious: If you don’t stop targeting kids with unhealthy products, then you are simply destroying your future customer base. That is not a good strategy for success.
Food is a symbol of survival and success alike. The Lord promised to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and into a land flowing with milk and honey. According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Marie Antoinette upon hearing that the peasants had no bread, suggested they eat cake. And Herbert Hoover is credited for promising all Americans prosperity in the form of a chicken in every pot.
Food is in fact one of the four necessities of life, though in America we are not nearly as obsessed over air, shelter and water. No, for us, food is the elixir of life. When we are happy, we eat in celebration. When we are sad, we eat to forget our depression. When we are busy, we eat to fuel up. When we are bored we eat to fill the void. Food has become the answer to our every question. Food is our lexicon.
I love you so much I could eat you up. I eat punks like you for breakfast. They are going to eat you alive. Hey, what’s eating you? Bite me. Chew on this my friend. Do you smell what the Rock is cooking? Eat your heart out baby. If you’re right, I’ll eat my hat. Yeah, well eat my shorts. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse. I’m not surprised, cause you eat like a pig. You’re gonna eat those words. Well, I hate to eat and run…
Anyway, in light of the new USDA Dietary Guidelines released on Monday, I am thinking that maybe we (are you listening Michelle Obama?) have been going about this obesity thing the wrong way. In short, we’ve simply been sending the wrong message all this time.
Plato said that the enjoyment of food is not a true pleasure because the purpose of eating is to relieve pain – hunger. Perhaps we would do well to remember – or learn anew – that the true nature of food is simply to fill our gas tanks with fuel… too little limits your ability, while too much is simply wasted.
And since I have taken the liberty of quoting Plato, allow me the indulgence of quoting my father, who like most Americans was obsessed with food: “Jimmy my boy, do all things, but do them all in moderation.”