Saturday, September 6, 2008

Candy Bars and Jelly Beans are Healthy?

Maybe you find it as ironic (or hypocritical) as I do that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), which has a mission of “Advancing health through science, education and medicine” has selected makers of candy bars and jelly beans to be “platinum” sponsors of its 13th Annual Health & Fitness Summit to be held March 25-28, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Irony (noun) = incongruity between what actually happens and what might be expected to happen, especially when this disparity seems absurd or laughable

I must admit, that as a Fellow of the ACSM, I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry when I read that Mars (makers of high-fat M&Ms and Milky Way candy bars) and Jelly Belly (makers of high-sugar jelly beans) were prominent sponsors of Health & Fitness Summit in 2009 (behind only Gatorade in terms of sponsorship dollars).

The marketing material for the event asks me to “BE INSPIRED” by presentations on Coronary Heart Disease, Diabetes, Obesity, and Cancer – while also asking me to “GET MOTIVATED” by ACSM’s “workout gurus” (their terminology) who will help me develop better balance, stability, strength, cardiovascular fitness, and overall health.

I’m not sure that I’m either “inspired” or “motivated” to attend any conference “brought to you by BIG CANDY” – would you be?

I can already hear people saying “everything in moderation” – which I agree with (who doesn’t enjoy an occasional handful of M&Ms?) – but I also train for Ironman triathlons and 12-hour ultra-distance trail runs, so I can “afford” an occasional treat (or cheat) in my diet (as can many of the hyper-fit exercise gurus who will be attending the Summit).

BUT, the implication of the cozy relationship between BIG CANDY and ACSM is that junk food is just fine – and all you have to do is “exercise enough” and you’ll be fine. The reality is that the average American adult, teen, and child is NOT getting enough exercise to work off even a single M&M or Jelly Belly. How many more kids with “adult-onset” diabetes do we have to see before we wake up and realize that this mentality is not just wrong – it’s dangerous and irresponsible?

I invite anyone who is concerned about the dual epidemics of obesity and diabetes (which affects 2 out of 3 Americans), to spend a few minutes viewing the trailer for the award-winning documentary on the topic, Killer at Large ( - it is a sobering and eye-opening look at the many factors underlying the causes of obesity and related chronic diseases in our society (many of which, you probably have NO idea about).

I have also invited ACSM to set aside a room and a block of time for their members to attend a FREE screening of Killer at Large during the 2009 Health & Fitness Summit (at my personal expense). As Executive Producer of the film, I have made it my mission to get as many health professionals, concerned parents, and community activists as possible to see Killer at Large and to use it as a platform to institute grassroots ACTION to address the causes of obesity in their own communities. This is a National effort, but it must be carried out by individual action on a local level. Please accept my invitation and join me in this mission.

Thanks for reading,

Shawn Talbott, PhD (FACSM)

I also blog on a daily basis at: (about various health and wellness topics) (about the pros and cons of dietary supplements) (about weight loss, metabolism, and feeling better) (about traditional Asian medicine, or TAM) (about nutrition for endurance athletes) (about metabolism, nutrition, exercise, and energy)

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