Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Culture vs. Strategies

Culture trumps strategy in the long-term – always. Sure this sounds like a business quote, which it is, but let’s expand it into the larger realm. There are a bunch of people out there doing great work in an attempt to create weight loss strategies that will impact our health.
Michelle Obama (whether you support her husband’s politics or not) is DOING something about childhood obesity with her Let’s Move campaign. It’s a strategy. Getting kids to move more, getting them to understand and connect with where food comes from can positively impact their food choices – less McDonald’s, more whole foods = less obese kids.
Yoni Freedhoff is talking about Weighty Matters everyday.
Marion Nestle is talking Food Politics in an effort to educate us about the back story of our food choices, Big Food (the money making, capitalist, food-oriented industrial complex). New York’s mayor is working to limit the amount of soda we can order in one cup. Strategies.
And if you think about it, each strategy by itself is not likely to impact our over all health. San Francsico’s ban on Happy Meal toys was easily circumvented with a 10 cent charge added to the price the meal – viola! Irritating problem solved (the the food company earns more money!)
What works is when all these strategies become so ingrained in our culture that the culture shifts. When we start seeing 32 oz. sodas as crazy big (again – because at some point American’s wondered who would actually drink that much soda!). When we start viewing eating out as a treat that happens once or twice a month not a staple of once or twice (or more) a week. When we start cooking (again) not just reheating food (or food products) that were created in a factory. 
When all of these things become normal again, then we have changed our culture to support our health.
But culture will never change without YOU. If you want to have an easier time managing your weight (and pull your local culture with you) you can’t wait for the culture to change – you have to change it by changing your behaviors.
We are all individual drivers of our local culture. We can change our family cultures which will change our school and work cultures which will change our city cultures.  All of these small changes will make it easier and reinforce YOUR internal culture change. 
If you want to be healthier – you need to be part of the solution….not the problem. It’s time to start thinking about which strategies you can actively support. We all need to do our part in creating the world we want to live in.

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