Ask anyone that knows me, “who is the most progressive wellness person you know?” and their answer would be, Donna Martini. So why am I opposed to Mayor Bloomberg’s recent attempt to control the consumption of soda? Simply put, I don’t think it will affect positive change.
Many years ago I learned the hard way that telling people what they should do doesn’t work. Fervently speaking to smokers about their life and death decision to poison themselves got me nowhere. When I turned it around and began to champion the second-hand smoke issue--pleading for the rights of children and adults to breathe clean air--I got my traction for the cause and affected change.
When the Mayor put the “No-Smoking in Parks” law into effect, I applauded him. There is no logic to going to a park in order to get some fresh air into your lungs and then having to breathe in another’s cigarette smoke. In fact, it is ludicrous. I was happy when he instigated wellness programs for city employees. I thought he was reaching for the stars when he began to control fat and salt in the restaurants, but hey, it seemed to go over okay. Now though, I think he might have set the wellness movement back a bit. When people start to believe they are being controlled, they rebel even the most well-meaning attempts at helping them. Control isn’t a bad word…though I think Mr. Mayor is using it on the wrong people.
How do we exert power over consumers without having power over the companies that make what we are consuming? It makes no sense to me that Pepsico is allowed to make such devastating drinks, advertise them to our youth and make billions of dollars on us, just so we have to now make laws to stop the overconsumption. But of course, we have been doing this for years. Where is the logic in spending billions to heal from the ill-effects of cigarettes? How do we subsidize corn growers so we can poison ourselves with high fructose corn syrup and meat from grain-fed cows that have been nutritionally deprived?
In my opinion, one of our biggest issues is lack of creativity. Anyone who cooks can attest to this: It is easy to make something taste great if you have no limit to how much fattening, salty, buttery, sugary ingredients you can put in. The real trick to making a product delicious is to also make it healthy and reasonably priced. If manufacturers would put as much talent into their recipe creation as they did into their advertising, we might actually be able to combat obesity in this country.
I am only one woman, but thankfully, the wellness movement has many champions. Instead of alienating people though, I need all of them, most especially the government leaders of our country to stand up to the real culprits involved in our current obesity and diabetes epidemic. Personal responsibility is crucial, but we also need healthy choices! Right now, living in America and being told to stay healthy, is like asking a reformed gambler to work in a casino. The odds are against all of us and we need to change more than just our minds in order to get this country on track to being the stellar example of world power we once were.