You've heard it said, “If you don't have your health, you don't have anything.” After 53 years of near-perfect health, I learned this lesson the hard way. I tore my patellar tendon (the quad muscle) from my left knee in January, which required surgery to reattach it and daily physical therapy to get back on my feet.
While fixating on my own recovery, I couldn't help but reflect on the state of America's health and wellness. I thought to myself, “Just think if I were obese or physically out of shape. What a tough recovery.” My misfortune struck me as an opportunity for the PR profession to truly make a meaningful difference in what matters most to Americans: their personal health.
By and large, Boomers are much more active and physically fit than any previous generation. Their expectations are to live a long, physically fit, and mentally active life. Living longer than their parents comes at a price: a higher propensity for physical as well as cognitive issues. To help inspire Boomers and their families to care for their brain health, Carmichael Lynch Spong and Life'sDHA, a DSM Nutritional Products brand, launched the “Beautiful Minds” campaign, which shares inspiring stories of people who are fulfilling the four dimensions of brain health — diet, physical health, mental health, and social well-being. Conveyed through rich media and an informative America's Brain Health Index, it's all housed at beautiful-minds.com.
Contrast Boomers with Millennials, where one in three is considered overweight and one in four is downright obese. Predictions state that Millennials will be the first generation to not live as well or as long as their parents. Next time you visit a grade-, middle-, or senior-high school, take a good look around. You'll find “muffin tops” galore among the girls and “beer bellies” on guys that are years away from sampling their first Pabst Blue Ribbon. Corresponding conditions such as early-onset diabetes, heart disease, and reports of knee injuries such as ACL tears among inactive kids are growing in alarming numbers.
Even more staggering is the rate of obesity among minority populations where regular exercise is rare and access to affordable, quality foods is hard to come by. Earlier this year, Carmichael Lynch Spong and its client SuperValu partnered with first lady Michelle Obama in a national effort to eliminate so-called “food deserts” in major metropolitan areas. SuperValu plans to improve access to high-quality, affordable groceries in underserved, urban neighborhoods by doubling the number of its Save-A-Lot stores in the next five years.
Taking personal responsibility for one's health takes inspiration. Inspiration comes from awareness, understanding, consideration, intent to act, behavior modification and habit formation — things at which a PR practitioner is particularly skilled.
The sheer size of spending on PR among medical device, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, fitness, nutrition, and other health and food companies is staggering. Our opportunity is to leverage our art and craft to earn appreciation for PR by changing the world one body at a time.
Doug Spong is president of Carmichael Lynch Spong.