Boy, oh boy! Where has my head been? Don’t answer that. All these years I, and thousands of other health professionals, have been trying to find ways to get as many people as possible to adopt healthful lifestyles. As it turns out, the smart money has always betted against us.
Financial professionals know that adopting a healthful lifestyle is a very simple, common-sense approach that hasn’t a chance of ever happening with enough people.
They know if everyone:
- started walking four or five times per week…
- gave up smoking…
- and made some smart food choices…
obesity would melt away, Type 2 diabetes would be a history lesson, heart disease and stroke would fall off the disease map, and about eight to10% of the USA’s GNP would be freed up for non-illness related products and services (envelope arithmetic).
In fact, if regular exercise were a pill it would be a global, $1 trillion per year mega blockbuster. And that’s just if everyone walked regularly.
Easy enough, right? But financial pros don’t think common sense like this is common. It doesn’t even have a long shot − 25 million to 1 − mega lotto’s jackpot equivalent chance of happening.
What makes financial pros different than most is that they bet big bucks (usually other peoples’) that they’re right about predicting the future.
Timothy Schluter of Fisher Investments recently wrote a great piece titled, “Industry Watch: The Growing Diabetes Risk.” He explained that as emerging economies improve, the peoples’ diets in those countries are the first thing to change. He then wrote, “…an introduction of foreign and processed foods, as well as a more sedentary urbanized work environment introduced a relatively modern phenomenon in China − obesity.”
So the United States finally has a trade surplus on something − obesity. And following those unhealthy lifestyles overseas are pharmaceuticals, medical device makers, and health-care services of all types. In fact, investing in these types of companies, with international reach, is considered a stable and safe way to invest. The populations in emerging economies are going to need a lot more of this stuff.
I got to wondering if anyone really believes that everyone could lead healthful lives? Which gets me to my favorite past time − stupid questions!
What if these programs worked with 100% success?
- Hospital’s community wellness programs
- Distiller’s drink in moderation campaigns
- Tobacco’s quit smoking messages
You have to wonder about an industry that puts out a program that if fully successful would put it out of business. At least the “got milk®” campaign from America’s milk producers makes economic sense if they were to hit perfection. The tobacco PR people probably think that should be, “don’t got milk.”
The financial professionals I know really do like wellness programs. But they know that economic progress introduces the lifestyle diseases of the modern world.
Maybe poor lifestyles are the problems we’d rather have in the world over the alternative problems? I just don’t think humanity needs to make that exchange. We can have a modern world without self-inflicted diseases. I am not giving up on that idea just yet.
Here are two takeaways for wellness and health professionals:
1. Hate the sin but love the sinner. Think of yours as a “spay and neuter” campaign. You probably wouldn’t endanger the existence of cats and dogs, but you’ll make life better for the living population.
2. Keep working at helping all people chose healthful lives. But just in case, you might also consider investing in a diversified portfolio of healthcare stocks — the type of organizations hope you don’t have an actual chance of achieving healthful outcomes with an entire population.
Then give me a call in a few years, and we can celebrate our own health, at the expense of those who didn’t listen to us.
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Shawn is the President and Founder of Hope Health. For over 30 years, his work has focused on bringing clear, easy-to-read, and watch health messages to the public via workplaces. He bills himself as the “Best C+ Student in the Wellness Biz” because, as he says, “I like to challenge the notion that there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Shawn is on a mission to tie workplaces into their surrounding communities to share resources and ideas in an effort to improve the health of all Americans.
You may reach Shawn at sconnors@HopeHealth.com or 800-334-4094.