Thursday, March 15, 2012

We Can't Always Afford to Wait for the Evidence

"Good Idea, but Little Evidence it Changes Behaviour"
I hear quotes like that a lot.

The problem with the statement isn't that it's not true, it's that it often paralyzes true change.

The thing is behaviours are pretty complex things, and so if you've got a highly complex system and change one variable, well you might not really expect to see much in the way of change.

When it comes to lifestyle relatable chronic disease, I do believe we're in a jam. Health care costs are climbing rapidly and I'd wager dietary quality is continuing to fall while physical activity sure isn't rising.

If we apply the belief that for every action comes and equal and opposite reaction to the complexities involved in dietary or fitness behaviours and look for quantifiable outcomes from each and every singular intervention then I think we're screwed because those behaviours are cloaked in far too much complexity to have simple, singular, solutions. Instead, if we're really serious about the need for change, we need to layer intervention on top of intervention, even if in and of themselves each individual intervention doesn't seem to accomplish very much.

What we have to come to terms with is that there won't be any simple solutions. There won't be any shortcuts. There may even be unintended negative consequences, but we as a society need a complete and total overhaul of our dietary value systems, our paces of living as they pertain to health, the leveling of the playing field between the consumer and the food industry, and more, and we need to accept the fact that the road to better health, while there, is shrouded with tremendous uncertainty despite the simple truisms of energy balance.

Of course if we park the car simply because we can't see around the next bend, we're never going to get anywhere, and so long as we keep moving, even if we take a few wrong turns, we might even get where we're trying to go.