Wednesday, November 05, 2014

World's Foremost Obesity Experts Don't Practice What They Preach #OW2014

This week I'm in Boston for "Obesity Week" - a massive joint conference co-hosted by The Obesity Society and The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Among the over 5,000 attendees are quite literally the world's foremost obesity researchers and clinicians. These are the folks who most assuredly understand and appreciate the impact lifestyle has on health, and I've no doubt, among the many recommendations these health professionals provide their patients and the public is,
"take the stairs instead of the escalator",
and yet.....

Here's a video I shot yesterday morning. It's a hyperlapsed few minute snapshot of some of Obesity Week's expert attendees when faced with the very obvious choice to either use the escalator, or to take the immediately adjacent stairs.

As you can see, almost no one chooses the stairs.

The fact that the folks with arguably the most education about the value of purposeful healthful lifestyle choices don't make this incredibly easy, healthful, and obvious choice speaks to the folly of simple "education" as a means of changing societal behaviour.

On the other hand, I'd wager, with a sign placed at the base of the escalator asking, "Why not take the stairs?", along with an arrow pointing to them, the numbers of stair climbers would rise quite dramatically.

All this to say that if the world's top obesity experts don't practice what they preach it bolsters the case that education alone isn't going to cut it in improving our nation's health. We need to change the world. Without environmental engineering and legislative efforts designed to support and encourage desired behaviours, our various healthy living staircases aren't likely to see much use.

[Hey Obesity Society and ASMBS folks - if you put up a sign for Thursday, would be happy to reshoot the video!]