Lose weight, say hi to a fireman

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Ever heard of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation? Until yesterday, it had slipped by me, and I try to keep up with stuff like this specifically. It's a "coalition of more than 80 food and beverage manufacturers, retailers, NGOs and trade associations with the stated aim of encouraging a balance of energy intake and physical activity in order to reduce obesity – particularly childhood obesity," according to foodnavigator-usa.com, a favorite source of information about the food industry.

When I hear that food and beverage manufacturers have banded together (with or without others) to encourage a balance of energy intake and physical activity, I immediately become skeptical. Don't forget that food and beverage manufacturers are not in the business of preventing obesity; they're in the business of selling as much food and beverage as they can within the law, so as to boost profits. I'm not saying they're all evil, or even without consciences, but when the issue becomes a company's bottom line, when the tough choices have to be made, what do you think most CEO will choose, profit or public health?

Even so, the story lists PepsiCo first among the companies, and trusted source Melanie Warner keeps telling me they're the most "savvy and proactive" food company out there, so maybe it has some legitimacy.

Then again, maybe not. One of the offspring of a partnership the foundation struck with some media partners is energybalance101.com, an exceptionally thin piece of work. On the community tab, I clicked through to see 10 suggestions of what to do with the kids this summer, thinking I'd see activities (emphasis on the active) — something to get the kids moving. Isn't that the whole point of the effort, to get kids more active, so the high-calorie foods that kids love and food corps. love to sell won't show up on kids' bodies, bringing all that inconvenient public scrutiny?

But no, the suggestions are not only short on cardiovascular excitement, they're short of excitement, period: Meet a firefighter, play with chalk, play dress-up, swing in a hammock. Swing. In. A. Hammock! 

Lame. Completely lame. But they can say that they're doing something.


Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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