retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

Everyone talks about the importance of good health, about eating better and exercising more. So why is it the path to that takes incredible detours, often with amazing ingenuity?

The Wall Street Journal recently featured a humorous story about the lengths people go to rack up thousands of steps on their Fitbits and other electronic devices…without moving a muscle.

There was the man who recorded 57,000 one night all while sleeping. He attached his Fitbit to the blade of an electric saw and left it vibrating on a workbench.

Then there was the guy who tried to win a company challenge for steps by strapping his device to a hamster wheel.

Others put their devices on pets, ceiling fans and, well, there’s even a YouTube video to show you other ways to beat so-called step challenges. The methods are both creative and devious.

Of course, these folks really only are kidding themselves.

All of this reminds us just how hard it is to get people to lead healthier lives. We have known for years that what consumers say they do is never exactly what they actually do when it comes to fitness or nutrition. Now the duplicity is just getting higher tech.

Now, in nearly all the cases reported on by the Journal, the motive for cheating was relatively simple. The step-fakers were either part of company program featuring incentives to encourage more exercise or they were simply in contests with friends and co-workers.

The goal was simply better health, hardly something nefarious. Yet the folks in the article and the thousands more who posted or watched YouTube videos on how to win these challenges, opted for cheating rather than actually improving their own health.

In some ways, it helps explain why despite all the products, marketing, television shows, laws and countless other activities aimed at improving health and nutrition, obesity rates continue to climb. In the end, people are going to do what they want to do.

This provides a special challenge to the food industry. We have to be partners with the shopper in trying to lead them to healthier lifestyles. We have to better explain the choices they have and hopefully help them eat and live with better balance.

But we also have to accept that there is no magic formula for success. In the end, the only thing shoppers are sure to exercise is their choice to live as they wish. And if that means cheating on diets or Fitbit challenges, that’s what’s going to happen.



Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at msansolo@morningnewsbeat.com . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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