I am very proud to be an American. I'm very aware of all the choices and freedoms that being an American entails. I'm also aware of the excesses in which we sometimes indulge. As Paul Simon satirically crooned, "God bless the goods we were given, and God bless the U.S. of A. God bless our standard of living...let's keep it that way. And we'll all have a good time."
There's no question that many Americans are blessed with a wealth of riches and choices. It's always been amazing to me that while so many countries struggle to feed their citizens, our country is so rich that many of our citizens actually pay to have someone coach them to not eat so much. We also pay for medicines - including those made by companies GSK - to help us lose weight from consuming so many calories.
With so much choice comes responsibility - both corporate and personal.
You may have heard that major beverage companies and industry associations have banded together to reduce the amount of high-calorie, carbonated soft drinks shipped to schools. The numbers are impressive. One association reports a dramatic decrease in both the total "beverage calories" shipped to schools, as well as in the total volume of full-calorie carbonated soft drinks shipped to those schools in the past five years.
It's great to see that industry and manufacturers are banding together to help children! But steps like these are only one-half of the solution. The other half of the solution must come from personal decisions made by parents, when they decide to teach - or not teach - their children health eating habits.
Obviously, the same applies to any health issue. GSK and other pharmaceutical companies manufacture wonderful products to address the potentially devastating effects associated with health issues such as smoking and high cholesterol, as well as...you guessed it...obesity. But we're only part of the solution. In an age in which we've all become accustomed to advanced medicines and medical procedures "saving the day," once a health problem has occurred, it's incredibly easy for us all - and I include myself - to forget the "low tech" means of preventing these diseases in the first place; such as getting enough exercise, not smoking, limiting junk food, and choosing the treadmill instead of the couch. After all, preventing disease in the first place is the best option of all.
So starting today, let's spend some time thinking about what we can do to head off future health problems, or making lifestyle choices to address the ones we already face.
As for me, I'm going to go for a 20-minute walk at lunch time. It's beautiful spring weather outside, the flowers and trees are in full bloom, and it's a chance to tone up while I doing something good for my heart. Now, if I can only find a way to deal with the allergies I suffer from being out in the pollen...maybe I should take some medicine for that...