I think Canada may have a fighting chance at keeping its “COACH” program from becoming another thinly veiled fat hatefest. This is because Dr. Arya Sharma is calling out his forces, and maybe some balance and sanity will prevail. Here’s the link to today’s post for you who are only now-and-again visitors to Dr. Sharma’s blog. It is especially vital for you to visit this post if you are Canadian. Click the button within his post that describes you, and enter the fray to reclaim your COACH program.
I considered clicking, even though I’m a US citizen. I can mispronounce “about” to sound like “a boat.” I can end every third sentence with an “eh.” But I’m sure, eventually, I’d be outed, and it would be horribly embarrassing.
The COACH program seems to show some signs of innate sanity. Its Readers’ Digest condensed description talks about “resources to manage . . . excess weight” not resources to lose weight. It acknowledges that “eat less move more” is not a panacea.
I also like that the acronym they chose, “COACH,” which suggests a helper, advisor. I would change the words from Canadian Obesity Awareness and Control Initiative for Health (which, technically, would be COAHIC, anyway) to Canadian Obesity Acceptance and Commitment to Health. For one, obesity has plenty of awareness. Every idiot knows about obesity and has an opinion. Control is, well, too controlling. And often impossible. What the developed world lacks is acceptance of obesity, and the understanding that it can co-exist with health. Perhaps if the COACH founders had started with different wording for their acronym, then the idiots wouldn’t be trying to hijack the program today, and it wouldn’t be so vital that you Canadians go join Dr. Sharma and try to claim it back.
Meanwhile, how’s public policy south of the border shaping up? Well, we’ve got Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign. Sadly, in the US, for some crazy reason, we have reached a consensus (enforced by “the American People,” excluding Democrats) that a society governed by the people for the people is inferior to a society controlled by the corporate elite to benefit the obscenely wealthy. Therefore, for a government program to have any credibility, it must have corporate sponsorship. Enter the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. Doesn’t it just take your breath away to read this:
“The Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a CEO-led organization, is a national, multi-year effort designed to help reduce obesity–especially childhood obesity–by 2015. It’s a first-of-its kind coalition that brings together more than 150 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants, sporting goods and insurance companies, trade associations and NGOs, and professional sports organizations. The Foundation promotes ways to help people achieve a healthy weight through energy balance–calories in and calories out. It focuses on three critical areas–the marketplace, the workplace and schools.”
Wow. All these corporate CEOs care about our health and weight! And they are so much more knowledgeable than, say, doctors and other health care professionals and researchers in the field. I know that as a proud American, I feel really secure that all these processed food purveyors are committed to helping us: ConAgra, Kraft, Sara Lee, Coke, Pepsi, Hershey’s, Nestle’s, Mars, Kelloggs, General Mills, Post Cereals (now merged with Ralston), and Darden Restaurants! (A more complete list is on page 13 of the annual report). How are they going to improve our health? Well, in addition to sponsoring “Let’s Move” to get us exercising, they’re going to help us eat less!
They’re committed to lowering annual caloric consumption in the US by 1.5 trillion calories by 2015, and sustain that level, so that as our population increases, our average calorie consumption (and waist circumference) will decrease. See? What’s really nifty: among their strategies, they’re going to package smaller amounts in their single-serving products (without lowering the price, I’m sure), providing both a financial incentive and a physical limitation for us common people who might otherwise eat too much product. Moreover, this creates higher profits for those CEOs. How clever!
In case you don’t feel secure with all these processed food corporations protecting your health, just look at paragraph seven of the news release. They have a watchdog that will report findings!
“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, also will support a rigorous, independent evaluation of how the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation’s efforts to reduce calories in the marketplace affect calories consumed by children and adolescents. RWJF will publicly report its findings.”
The man, Robert Wood Johnson, you may recall, was the founder of Johnson and Johnson, the pharmaceutical company that now manufactures the Realize laparoscopic band for bariatric surgery (see pages 22 and 23 of this review of medical devices and diagnostics that the company provides its stockholders). In addition to their lap bands, Johnson and Johnson recently tried to get a new weight-loss drug, Qnexa, on the market. (Oh, well. Back to the drawing board!) Now, I don’t doubt that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is devoted to “improving the health and health care of all Americans,” but I bet they have a tiny agenda as to how that is best done. For example, it seems to me that as long as we keep the focus of obesity on weight-loss behavior – eat less, move more – and behavior reliably fails 97% of the time, then people are gonna look for solutions to obesity from, oh, pharmaceutical companies, eh? Eh?!
Hey, Canadians, it’s a-boat time you go reclaim your COACH program, lest it become “Let’s Move”!