For some reason I felt rather inspired to go on a light rant this morning. It’s been awhile, and yeah. I have been planning on writing this post for some weeks and have let my subconscious work on it. But this week I saw two posts that brought the idea to the forefront of my brain.
The first post was by James Fitzgerald founder of Opex Fitness. He quipped, “What if Broccoli had a 30 second Super-Bowl Ad”. I’ll let you consider that on your own for now.
The other post was a headline of an article. Something like “Why I put my health over my career”. I admittedly haven’t read the piece yet, but the headline let me know that a certain synchronicity around this idea was abound in the collective unconscious of society and gave me a brief hope that some of the things I believe in might be gaining ground.
What are these things I believe in? Well, this thought experiment should let you know. I am passionate about this stuff, and can get pretty worked up thinking about how poorly our society treats the health of its people. This is pretty utopian, but I also, fail to see how what we have now is anywhere near the best possible system.
The question that I’ve been asking myself is this…..
What if “they” wanted you to be healthy?
What would a world look like in which the powers that be were invested in the health of its citizens?
Here are the areas that jumped out on me and a brief rant about each. I am not providing answers here, only questions, and one could definitely could go much deeper into each of these sections and probably write a book on each. My goal is just to get people thinking here.
Simply stated if they wanted you to be healthy a larger focus of healthcare would be preventative rather than reactive. Doctors would be educating their patients on what lifestyle changes need to be made rather than dishing out more pills. Appointments wouldn’t be rushed, and they’d try to learn about your lifestyle. If they wanted you to be healthy, the medical industry wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar business and corporations wouldn’t profit off of your health or lack of health. We wouldn't be prescribed pills that are barely more effective than a placebo or less effective than introducing exercise. If they wanted you to be healthy doctors would be active in trying to create a healthier society by publicly promoting healthier lifestyles.
If they wanted you to be healthy, our education system would include the subject of health and self-maintenance. Imagine if students were taught how to eat properly and how to exercise properly. What if by the time you were eighteen you knew the benefits of eating healthy and understood the negative impact that eating processed, added-sugar foods has on development and longevity. Imagine if the Canada food guide was actually a model for healthy eating. Imagine if every person had a working knowledge of how to take care of themselves so that healthy eating wasn’t some secret knowledge held by the few people out there who have studied it at length. I honestly believe that we could arm our nation with the power to be healthy by including one nutrition class and one physical maintenance class fit somewhere into the junior or senior year of high school. Nutrition and exercise with the goal of not being obese is not complicated.
Grocery Stores and Food Companies
Imagine if a grocery store was designed with a healthy consumer in mind. They wouldn’t put sugar-bait near check-out counters, and have 85% of the products in the store packed full of sugar and other shit we don’t need in our bodies. Rather than putting 2L of Pepsi on sale, spinach would be discounted one week, and Kale the next. If they wanted you to be healthy, grocery stores would work with local farmers and growers rather than industrial farms. Food companies would be focused on providing the healthiest food to its consumers rather than whatever food/production practises will lead to the most profit. Food companies wouldn’t spend millions of dollars on flashy advertising and packaging because they wouldn’t be trying to manipulate you into eating crap.
If they wanted you to be healthy, the government would monitor what kind of food ends up in supermarkets and made available to its citizens. The health of its citizens would be considered before the profit of tobacco, alcohol, and food companies which sell unhealthy food. They would tax unhealthy food which costs the taxpayers as much or more as alcohol and cigarettes each year in healthcare costs. Our government would be promoting sustainable and healthy farming practises. We need more broccoli than grain, sorry.
Many people will think that they don’t want their government controlling what they eat, “I’m an adult I can chose what to eat”. To steal from logic from comedian Ricky Gervais we have seatbelt laws, to protect our bodies, and we seem to be ok with that, so why don’t we have laws protecting people from themselves when it comes to what they eat? Auto-related deaths come in at around 2000/year in Canada, while in the year 2000 over 4000 Canadians died because of obesity related issues. Hmmm.
If they wanted you to be healthy, you would be given time to eat a lunch each day. Work hours would be reasonable and you would get more holidays each year. Many countries in the world are protecting the rights of employees with longer holidays, and even making it illegal for employers to contact employees after work hours with e-mail or text.
Employers would first be concerned with having happy and healthy employees first, and profits second. A great example of how this is not part of our culture is what Tim Horton’s did to its employees after the minimum wage was increased. If people have to suffer and lead unhealthy lives for a business to be successful, perhaps it shouldn’t be in business.
Society in and of itself also does not respect health as a virtue. People will sacrifice quality of life by working extra hours or a job they hate so that they can drive a nicer car, or have some extra square footage in their house that they’ll never use. We value money and monetary things more than we value our health. Our social functions are often based around drinking alcohol or gluttony. Exercise is largely viewed as a punishment or a cure not as a past-time or hobby.
It is not hard to see how the powers that be are not concerned with your health. But, who said your health should be someone else’s concern anyway? The question that is really worth asking is….
What if you wanted to be healthy?
You would take control, nut/ovary up, and make it happen. It can be as simple as that.
Grit Human Performance