In life, as we all have seen and experienced, there are some things that effortlessly coalesce to produce a harmonious and balanced pairing of sorts. Take for instance (given these beautiful summer months), summer dresses and wedges, beaches and barbecues, and happiness and sunlight. Although the summer months pass us by much too quickly, these pairings epitomize a seasonal favorite and create a bountiful expression of positivity and bliss. Similarly, the association of such congruent pairings is also replicated in lifestyle medicine practices as well. From mindfulness and meditation and energy and quality sleep to heart health and exercise and apples and nut butter, lifestyle medicine solutions offer an array of healthful, wholesome, purposeful, stress-free and accessible pairings to assist in optimizing our well-being while leading a health-promoting, sustainable lifestyle. Such lifestyle medicine pairings lack a seasonal vacation and exist, for us, year round in order to permanently provide the well-known advantageous, fruitful and beneficial outcomes of optimal longevity.
On the contrary, there are some things in life that mix as well as, well, oil and water. The nonmagnetic and incongruent nature of such pairings depict a grim relationship mirroring a tug of war with little hope for balanced, prolific outcomes. In such unrelated combinations, the coarse ebb and flow that jars one in one direction or another is reminiscent of our most recent presidential debates. Such dissimilar couplings that may come to mind are nourishment and malnourishment, sedentarianism and movement, stressful and stress-free, and mindful and mindless. In adhering to this edge of divergence, one may also add McDonald's and fitness to the list of perplexing pairings that embrace a level of contrast and dissimilarity that cannot be comprehended.
McDonald's represents a potent symbol of fast and convenient food consumption. As a leading food service retailer, Olympic sponsor (fuel for optimal athletic performance?), and familial favorite, there lies an opportunity for impactful and healthful change. With a global presence and ample consumer stomach space available, McDonald's has the power and game-changing ability to redefine wholesomeness, nourishment and consumption through taste bud rehab and a forks over knives mindset with menu options that reflect such things. Unfortunately, however, we are faced with a marketing conundrum that goes far beyond viewership, revenue, and happy meals. Such cunning and futile propaganda speak more about public health concerns and disproportionate messaging when tender, juicy, smothered and crispy menu offerings are paired with fitness trackers. These food descriptors encompass an energy-dense menu comprised of tender, juicy chicken nuggets, beef burgers smothered in chipotle barbecue sauce, crispy chicken salads and golden French fries all washed down by a succulent McCafe shake. The oxymoron showcased here encompasses a baffling paradigm that elicits further confusion for the already misled consumer. The opportunity to move beyond scientifically devised palatable and addictive junk food into a food service environment that truly embraces wholesome and nutritious food products for the betterment of our nation's health is available. However, the latter is detracted by the notion that fitness is best served up with a side of fries.
Currently, approximately 17% of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are considered obese (1). Although the prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity has remained stable for the last decade, the number of children affected (~12.7 million) is much too high. Marketing plays an intoxicating and persuasive role in affecting the subconscious of children and their food choices (2). Such marketing tactics and strategies cultivate obesity-promoting environments that sway the consumer experience towards more energy-dense and nutrient-poor food options. With the current obesity epidemic and associated comorbidities saturating our healthcare system, both public policy and marketing efforts should be implemented to limit the exposure of such unhealthy food and beverage products (2).
Food, an essential commodity for living, is functional and utilitarian in nature. Food that is grown through love by nature's own abundance sans glow-in-the dark characteristics provides a sustainable, enjoyable, and wholesome avenue for optimal and delicious nourishment. Food, in its purest and humblest form, originated not through glow in the dark and scientifically devised means, but rather as a simple and natural pathway for survival and growth (no GMO's included). Food has this powerful ability to tantalize, stimulate and arouse all of our senses. Food is the cornerstone for familial and social gatherings. Food is culture and pastime, joy and bliss. Food is beautiful if we embrace the simplicity that comes with it. How can we embrace the nourishment and beauty, rather than hedonism, that comes with FOOD in its most basic form? How can we provide marketing platforms that optimize and cultivate health-promoting environments with satiated, nourished bodies? How can you, McDonald's, provide an example reflective of lifestyle medicine practices that add years to life and life to years? Food is not meant to deplete or minimize longevity but rather provide our bodies with the proper nourishment to live vitally important, healthful, and sustainable lives! Here's to marketing that embraces FOOD in its simplest, purest, and most health-promoting form. Here's to lifestyle medicine solutions that go as well together as exercise and nutrition.
Best in health and happiness,
Colleen M. Faltus, MS, CWWS, CPT
1) Boyland, E. J. and Whalen, R. (2015), Food advertising to children and its effects on diet: review of recent prevalence and impact data. Pediatr Diabetes, 16: 331-337. doi:10.1111/pedi.12278
2) Childhood Obesity Facts . (2015, June 19). Retrieved from Centers For Disease Control and Prevention : https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Colleen M. Faltus
Colleen has ber BS degree in Applied Exercise Science from Springfield College (2008) and MS degree in Nutrition and Health Promotion at Simmons College (2015). She currently hold certifications through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and National Wellness Institute (NWI) as a certified personal trainer and worksite wellness specialist. Additionally, she is a member of the Worksite Wellness Council of MA as well as an active committee member for their annual conference.
Colleen has experience writing and speaking about lifestyle medicine at both the individual and population health level. Her expertise also lies in the design and implementation of people-centric health and well-being programs, with previous experience in both the commercial sector at Sports Club LA and Equinox as well as corporate sector at Google and State Street Corporation. Colleen's knowledge and expertise in the development and implementation of individual and population-based health and well-being programs embodies the significance of lifestyle medicine solutions for sustainable, positive health outcomes.
Specialties: organizational health and well-being program planning and implementation, lifestyle medicine practices and solutions, disease and stress-management, individual and population-based exercise prescriptions
Read more from Colleen on Women's iLab here