Posts Tagged ‘preventative medicine’

Food for thought

April 4, 2009

img_vert_mcdougalls2

I’ve read a lot about Dr John McDougall. He interests me a lot, aside from the fact that his profile shots with Mrs McDougall belong hung above the fireplace of a woodlands house, or in a 1970’s winter fashion catalogue.

He runs a 10 day live in program in California aiming to reverse chronic disease. Amongst other things, McDougall advocates that nutrition is one of the most effective ways to prevent and treat heart disease (and cops it from cardiovascular surgeons who are losing their bypass patients to him).  His successful ‘Star McDougallers’ are real life endorsements for the removal of animal products in the diets of CHD patients. The whole testimonial thing is a bit creepy but that’s probably just an American thing. The style of filming, set design and editing is a little bit too “Hi, I’m Troy McClure“. Get RID of the red velvet curtain in the background. 

In my opinion the people who would benefit from this kind of dietary change are the most unlikely to go to a health retreat. While I like his concept, the marketing seems wrong to me. The market segment that needs this info the most are low income earners, with busy lifestyles and poor nutritional knowledge. They are not going to spend 10 days in a health retreat. They need this packaged in a way that makes sense and has value to them.  Processed, prepackaged food is expensive. Meat and animal products are expensive. Grains and legumes are cheap.  Fresh fruit and vegetables are cheap. 

Having heart disease is expensive.

Not having heart disease is cheap. 

There are a lot of people that can be reached if a product or service breaks convention with its advertising. The success of the Skinny Bitch series can be attributed to:

  • the lack of the word “Vegan” in the title
  • the chick lit style cover
  • a paparazzi photo of Victoria Beckham emerging from a shop clutching the book

If the authors of the Skinny Bitch series had titled their books “Vegan Fare” and used cover art of an kitchen bench laden with fruits and vegetables they would have significantly reduced their audience. I think the McDougall program is doing great things with their diet vs drugs philosophy (peas vs pills, oatmeal vs obesity, cabbage vs CABG), but they haven’t broken convention enough with the way they spread their message. It’s possible that their methods of communication mean that they’re only preaching to the converted (and the willing to be converted). 

I’d like to see the MacDougalls cut loose a little. 

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