Monday, June 29, 2015
One Crisis After Another
Nothing could make the point better, about behavior having consequences, than the short parade of crises in the news this last week. According to the CDC, the US has a sleep crisis. Meanwhile a health advocacy group blames Coke for the continued obesity problems in America. We text while we drive because we are addicted to technology.
The watchdog group, Center for Science in the Public Interest, is circulating their own version of the famous Coca Cola commercial from 1970, the “Hill Top Ad,” to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking sugary soft drinks. The parody is necessary, they say, to counter the promotion efforts by Coke, Pepsi and others. "The industry is spending billions of dollars to encourage people to drink more, and the health side of the equation needs to get the message out to drink less.”
So here is one more group who believes that Americans are so gullible or stupid or impressionable that billions in advertising can talk them into doing something that, if they were just a little better informed, they would not. Is that even credible? Are commercial ads really so powerful that we are helpless to resist? Get a grip! The industry’s response was that they “put clear calorie information on all of our cans, bottles and packs” to allow consumers to make the choices that are best for them.
Obesity does continue to be a problem in America, and The LA Times reports a new study finding a constant increase. “Two-thirds of U.S. women and three-quarters of U.S. men are overweight or obese.” This is not good, but can we blame that on beverage advertising? This is a discipline issue compounded by a responsibility issue as another advocate enhances their own income and job security by trying to protect victims by shifting the blame.
Just two days earlier came the reports of a “sleep crisis.” The CDC is working on new sleep guidelines as research shows that adults get less sleep than recommended, a minimum of at least 7 hours each night. “Anything from 6 hours and below can raise your risk for a heart attack, stroke, diabetes and obesity.”
On the same subject Reader’s Digest announced in March: “Sleep deprivation now rivals obesity and smoking as our greatest public health crisis.” They say lack of sleep is making us “fat, sick and stupid.” Later in the article the blame is placed on technology and the responsibility to solve it has fallen on employers as they try to combat workplace fatigue by offering “sleep-hygiene courses, taught by an increasing legion of sleep experts who come at the problem from various disciplines: medicine, psychology, business. Recognizing that getting their employees to sleep more at home will help them perform better at work, top corporations are bringing these experts in to preach the gospel of sleep to their employees.”
Once upon a time employees were expected not to fall asleep at work. Once there was a simple concept called bedtime – when we were children, parents enforced it; by the time we became adults, we had developed the habit. Today it’s technology’s fault and the employer’s problem to fix. The only surprise was that they didn’t try to also blame it on the caffeine in the cola.
A few days later CBS informed us that use of smart phones behind the wheel is on the increase and “distracted driving caused 3,100 deaths in 2013.” Their expert explained how this is an addiction, like gambling. Technology is being developed in Australia to track drivers’ eye movements and sound an alarm, at the same time as states propose new laws. You see, we have shown we cannot control or be responsible for our own behavior.
So the lack of sleep is making Americans fat, sick and stupid; the soft drinks are making Americans fat and sick; and it takes a watchdog group and employers to solve that problem because we are apparently incapable of saying no to the cola, no to the smartphone and yes to a reasonable bedtime. We cannot resist using the phone while driving, a practice that began only a few years ago. Am I the only one that finds this trend really, really scary?