The future of obesity treatment is arriving, and personal trainers aren’t part of it?

Posted on April 9, 2020

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(Last Updated On: April 9, 2020)

Last year I wrote The future of obesity treatmentarguing one of the only forms of effective treatment left on the table is heavy government intervention, but, maybe that was a ways off, and we could try one or two other avenues first.

Soooo, looks like it might be going the other way-

Sugary Drink Consumption Plunges in Chile After New Food Law

“Consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks dropped nearly 25 percent in the 18 months after Chile adopted a raft of regulations that included advertising restrictions on unhealthy foods, bold front-of-package warning labels and a ban on junk food in schools.”

If that is true, and that is maintained, it is an astounding change. One I think only governments can make.

“The law is far-reaching. It includes mandatory package redesigns that erased cartoons like Tony the Tiger from sugary cereal boxes, and television advertising restrictions that banished ads for unhealthy products from the airwaves between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. A study published last year by the journal Public Health Nutrition found that Chilean children were subjected to half as many ads for junk food and sugary drinks after the restrictions were put in place.

The regulations followed a 2014 measure that raised the tax on sugary beverages to 18 percent from 13 percent.”

“A centerpiece of the rules is a series of black stop signs that must appear on the front of packaged foods and beverages high in salt, sugar, fat or calories. Experts say the “high in” logos have had an unmistakable impact on the way Chileans shop for groceries. In focus groups, parents have described being reprimanded at the supermarket by their children if they reach for products emblazoned with the stop signs.”

“That’s just Chile” you might think.

Peru, Uruguay, Israel have adopted Chilean-style front-of-package labels; Brazil and Mexico are expected to finalize similar labels in the coming months, and a dozen other countries are considering them as well.”

It’s kind of like any idea that works really well- it gets copied quickly.

“Those are just small foreign countries” you might think.

Barry M. Popkin, a University of North Carolina nutritionist who is advising the government”

This is policy being advised on by Americans! One who

“said legislators [in Chile] are considering what he called a “mega tax” on processed foods — the frozen pizza, instant noodles and fast-food meals that are responsible for two-thirds of all calories consumed by children.”

And they’re just getting started.

One argument against this form of regulation goes along the lines of “people should have the freedom to eat whatever they want.” I’m sympathetic to that reasoning, but it just isn’t very solid in this context.

If you examine the article, you’ll notice a lot of the emphasis is on children. The argument then gets flipped, “children should have the freedom to not grow up obese.”

It’s no different than smoking.

“People should have the freedom to smoke if they want.”

But then,

“People should have the freedom to not inhale your second hand smoke”

As well as,

“You have to be a certain age to decide whether you can smoke.”

If you’re thinking “that’s different, smoking can influence those around you.” Well, if more people around you are obese, you don’t think that affects you? If you hang around alcoholics, you don’t think you’re more likely to drink?

Make your own decision as to who is right and your own bet as to who wins.

One reason I bring this up is the business aspect. I find that helps think about these kinds of situations in probabilistic terms, and at the end of the day, that’s what we’re dealing with. There are no guarantees when trying to predict human behavior.

So, for instance, would you buy stock in a sugar only company these days? (Why do you think Coca-Cola has been making such a push for its non-sugar options?)

How about if you’re a personal trainer? What does your business look like if two years from now Americans are, say, consuming 25% less sugar?

Let’s say you’ve made a career out of being a trainer, a nutritionist, or something fitness oriented. Your livelihood depends on it, and you have enormous sunk cost with it due to all the time you’ve put in. Do you dismiss the idea of this happening because you want to avoid cognitive dissonance? Or do you examine the hell out of your scenario, trying to be prepared for this?

If you think there’s only a 50% chance of something like this happening in America, that still means 12.5% less expected sugar consumption. How should you react to that?

Because this isn’t poker. Your chips have to go on the table. Which table do they go on?

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