August 26, 2011

Hamburgers for Health?

 Cancer and other chronic disease research, for years, has suggested the importance of a healthy diet including eating from a wide variety of vegetables and fruit, limiting red meat, eating more fish, and watching the consumption of sugary and processed food and drink. Right? It's there in black and white.

So when grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and even my veterinarian's office offer the proceeds from junk food to go to health support and even chronic disease research I'm usually caught with nothing to say (which is very rare let me tell ya). For example, if you look for it, you will see the pink ribbon (a global symbol for breast cancer research) on packages of processed, fatty, and sugary foods including junk food.  Is it me or is there a huge disconnect there? Another recent example of this obvious contradiction is a local grocery store promising the donation of revenue from their Pepsi products to go to health care...not to mention the local fast food restaurant donating a percentage of their revenues from selling burgers to cancer research.

  We see fun runs and special physical activity events being held to raise funds for cancer research only to see the BBQ at the finish line handing out burgers and hot dogs.  Do we not realize this disconnect? Are we so programmed to raise money for a cure (to the treatment of a disease) that we have ignored the most important component (the prevention of the disease). Although I have to remind myself that these events do promote physical activity, a sense of community, and other great things...and people really do feel they are doing something good for humanity, it breaks my heart to see so much time and effort being placed on reaction and not on prevention.  Think of the money we would save if our focus was on prevention? If we cleaned up our environments, focused on our stress, made eating healthy sexy, and dealt with the real reasons we are getting cancer at an alarming rate....we could focus our fund raising on other important causes like feeding and sheltering those on the streets of our towns.

 However, the reality is we offer "for the cause" events more and more. So in keeping with the theme, why not promise the proceeds from selling vegetables or fruit to a chronic disease research association? Why not offer booths at these events that highlight the importance of prevention? Why is it always about cancer? Mother Theresa once said that she would never attend a war rally but would go to a peace rally. Focusing on cancer may just bring more cancer....a focus on health, prevention, eating, exercise, sleep, emotional management, and the like may be what we need to see to really make a difference. But this way doesn't keep people employed, it doesn't put money in the pockets of the corporations that sell Pepsi and hamburger. So is this about truly finding a cure or could it be fueled by something else?

 I'm just putting the question out there. It's definitely a hot topic and many would jump down my throat and tell me I'm not a team player, I'm not a positive person, it's not about conspiracy (I've heard them all). But before judgement, I urge you (in general) to find information that looks at both sides of the coin. There are a ton of research articles and books out there that take a critical look at the subject. My favorite is "The Secret History of the War on Cancer", written by Devra Davis.

I am still very hopeful that we will turn our attention to prevention, but I'm sure (like anything else) it has to get worse before it gets better.....or maybe I'm just still very naive to the power of the economy of illness.

Either way, it's healthy to practice critical thinking.

Have a great weekend!


P.S. I googled "breast cancer awareness and food" and came up with pics of cupcakes, processed soups, alcohol, cookies, and the like.....unfortunately, I didn't see vegetables or anger management or really anything to do with healthy lifestyles.

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