Does business hinder healthy living?
October 1, 2012
Knowing that healthy eating starts at home is not exactly a new idea. The article linked here draws attention to the ‘plight’ of overweight kids and makes suggestions as to how home life can be remodelled to make the ‘needed’ changes. Here are the listed five improvements:
1. SCHEDULE FAMILY MEALS
2. EAT THE WAY YOU WANT THEM TO EAT
3. IF YOU DON’T WANT THEM TO EAT IT, DON’T BUY IT
4. BE ACTIVE AS A FAMILY
5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE FIRM
Sounds very reasonable? Unfortunately most parents will explain that these things are not quite as simple as they sound, as they say ‘life’ gets in the way! Part of that ‘life’ is what business does to prevent parents constructing these healthy behaviours. here are just a couple of examples:
SCHEDULE FAMILY MEALS: Well, unfortunately New Zealanders work very long hours, in 2008 1/3 worked more than 50 hours per week! More so it is the low income parents who appear to be extending their working hours. To take this improvement seriously we need businesses and workers in NZ to be more accepting and encouraging of work-life balance.
EAT THE WAY YOU WANT THEM TO EAT: As above, this recent story claims that almost 1/2 of New Zealanders skip breakfast because of, wait for it… yes – their busy(ness) lifestyles.
IF YOU DON’T WANT THEM TO EAT IT, DON’T BUY IT: We don’t want to get too deep into the dodgy marketing associated with the food industry, but suffice it to say that most of us don’t even understand what we are buying. Food labelling has become an industry all of its own, peddling a heady mix of non-sense and make-believe. Also the power of direct marketing to kids makes the ‘don’t buy it’ tricky! Perhaps the food industry can front up with a more reasonable guide for parents?
BE ACTIVE AS A FAMILY: The business of marketing here also has to shoulder some blame. Whether it is the latest XBOX game or the new vampire film out, the focus of capitalism is generally on extracting large wads of cash from the pockets of (un)suspecting parents. Active pursuits such as bush-walking, cycling or playing in the river don’t make much money for the multi-national corporations.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE FIRM: Any parent understands this requirement, but it is difficult when surrounded by what some argue is a culture of permissiveness in modern parenting. The scariest bit is the massive volume of ‘how-to-parent’ literature, like this article, telling one what is going to happen to poor little Johnny! And then there is the controversy over the so-called ‘anti-smacking’ law, just how firm is too firm?
The problem I am pointing to here is that business does hinder healthy living, in a multitude of ways. Even those businesses in the ‘healthy’ industry often peddle confusion in their rush to attract consumer dollars. If we are serious about our kids health we may need to abandon business values in favour of family values, or is that just cliché?
Author: Dr Andrew Dickson firstname.lastname@example.org