How to Save America: Are You a Courageous Leader?

November 8, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

The FDA announced today that businesses can no longer put trans-fats in the food they make and sell. The reason? The head of the FDA said it will save at least 7,000 preventable deaths each year.

I don’t feel moved to say this very often about government agencies but, “Thank you.” I not only want to save lives I also want to reduce health problems (1 in 2 Americans suffer from a chronic disease and 6 in 10 are obese). I also want to our country’s finances to get turned around so that healthcare costs (now about 18% of GDP or 2 to 3 times what other countries spend) don’t take our country into receivership.

I look at the trans-fat issue as I do the smoking issue. It seems obvious that trans fats are bad for you just like tobacco smoke (in primary and secondary forms) are bad for you.

I assume the makers of these products didn’t think so. Shareholders, boards and management teams of companies wouldn’t produce, distribute and market something that was bad for you would they? It was a blind spot right? Or is not their fault – it’s a free country right? Consumer beware! Is the American business person’s mantra. Regulation is not necessary, most business people do the right thing.

Unfortunately no. A while ago McDonald’s finally stopped using trans fat to fry their French fries. I hate to be cynical, but looking at all the moves McDonald’s has or has not made re the use of Styrofoam, deforestation in emerging countries, disclosure of calories and fat content, mistreating franchisees, most changes that company have been made because the risk of losing more money than gaining became too great.

I am picking on McDonald’s and worry that too many companies in their quest for more profit are creating the need for more regulation. What was up with the companies who bought stuff made overseas by companies using unsafe work environments?

When it comes to getting MORE, we can’t seem to get enough. Even if it means compromising core values or hurting another person. When a company is finally told you can’t do that bad thing anymore, it is amazing how innovative they become to address solutions. It’s also amazing how stupid it seems that we have been for allowing the practice to persist for so long.

Forget the moral angle. I want to save my fellow citizens of the planet and my country from suffering and I want to save my country from wasting money and going bankrupt. I care about you. On good day, I care about everyone.

The FDA and the companies it regulates will move too slow to make the right moves. We are left with driving change by starting with ourselves.

So my contribution is to increase awareness and make changes in what I consume and feed my family, friends and guest. Here is my personal list of disclosures and bans to save life, health and country:

  1. Corn syrup: This really applies to all nasty forms of sugar. We need warning labels and to educate consumers by highlighting ingredients.
  2. GMOs: Require food that is made with genetically modified food to be labeled as such. To many studies tie this practice to diseases that are becoming epidemics.
  3. Quick-digesting carbs: Read the book “Why We Get Fat” – it is filled with research that is indisputable that reducing calories in and increasing the calories you burn is not the way to lose weight (you may need to read that sentence again). The way to lose weight is to stop eating carbs that immediately turn to sugar: chips, bread, pasta, rice, most potatoes, cookies, anything made with wheat, rice or potatoes. The answer here is not to ban this stuff but to educate people on how bad these forms of grains are, especially if you are obese or suffering from a wide-range of diseases but particularly diabetes and heart disease.

Again, my cynicism is growing. I don’t think we have enough well-positioned people who want us to be healthy. Less spending on healthcare means less profit and growth for the current business models used by hospitals, healthcare providers and drug companies. And who will be powerful enough to go up against food (and Round-Up) powerhouses like Monsanto, ADM and Cargill?

What do we need to save America from it’s citizens? I guess I will start with me. What am I doing that causes harm to others and rationalizing it? What role do freedom, success and money play in my life? Now I really feel like grabbing a bag of chips!

Filed in: Leadership

About the Author (Author Profile)

Executive coach, top team facilitator, author and speaker. I work with individual leaders and their teams to help navigate personal and professional transitions and to increase leadership capacity and improve communication and relationship skills. I founded my coaching firm in 2001 following 12 years asa CEO. Check out more on me and my coaching process in my book "The Business of Wanting More: Why Some Executives Move from Success to Fulfillment and Others Don't"

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