The reason why big government "healthy lifestyle" programs don't work is…

…because they think education is the answer.

And while I am a big fan of education, I am pretty sure that the majority of us know that:

  • Exercise is healthier than watching tv
  • Vegetables are healthier than pizza
  • Meditation is healthier than obsessing over that idiot who cut you off in traffic
  • Drinking a glass of wine with dinner is healthier than downing a bottle by yourself
  • Socializing with friends is healthier than being a loner
  • Stretching tight muscles is healthier than sitting all night after sitting all day at work

We already know this stuff…..and yet, we eat junk food, watch too much tv and barely get any exercise.


Education by itself didn’t reduce the number of smokers.

It took education + higher taxes + municipal bylaws restricting public smoking + a whole lot of shaming from non-smokers who finally felt empowered enough to tell someone to butt out.

And if we want to reduce the healthcare costs attributable to poor lifestyle choices – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, alzheimers, cancer, etc…. we need to do more than education.




  1. Doug, this is a good article, and I largely agree. Education as a persuasion tactic absolutely sucks……and it always has. For whatever reason, people always harp on education as being the answer, but the cognitive arithmetic doesn’t really add up.

    It’s an interesting question, and I think sheds light on how people really feel about the behavioral capabilities of humans.

    I’ve always enjoyed working out and feeling healthy, and don’t need any help to get moving. My sister is a personal trainer, and she tells me her clients more or less want a gentle Nazi by their sides to keep them doing the right thing.

  2. I think we’re in the minority of people. Along with us, I think there is a similar sized group who are adamant about NOT exercising or eating healthy.

    But the biggest group are those people who could be motivated, but aren’t hearing any messages to get them to give up junk/sloth and adopt a healthy lifestyle…and education isn’t going to ignite that spark 😦

  3. Simply put, I believe that we have taken something pure and healthy and created the illusion that it’s actually complex.

    The fact is “Fast Food is slowing us down” and our demanding attitude and sense of being entitled is holding us back. Our addiction to “convenient living” is now weighing us down. We eat in our cars, drink energy drinks, buy boxes of food instead f fresh food and we give up the pleasure and social of sharing meals together – all in an effort to get ahead in life and be successful.

    It’s not rocket science! So many people are much more invested in wanting to make life easy rather than making life healthy! Why? Because in my humble opinion, sugar coated marketing has convinced people that by digesting these misconceptions and slanted facts their lives will actually be sweetened with satisfaction. Sadly, the reality is, Junk Food not only sours our stomach, it sours our whole quality of life!

    The good news is …we have the choice to make change. The problem is not insurmountable. We can begin by sharing bite size positive conversations and we can continue to expose the healthy truth of the matter. Behaviour patterns and daily habits are not necessarily easy to change but they are not impossible to change.

    The problem is frustrating, taxing and it is costing us! In some cases it is costing us our life! We can’t give up on people – that is not the answer!
    Instead….One person at a time, one friend at a time, one child at a time – offer encouragement! Inspire & Empower! Do the right thing! Share your story, your knowledge and your care. Be effort-full. All together we can make a positive and healthy difference.

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