Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What next, the Philip Morris Center for the Treatment of Lung Cancer?

I know, I know, you have to take the money from those who give the money, and, in the case of the University of North Carolina Children’s Hospital, the money for renaming their pediatric clinic the Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic came from Krispy Kreme.

Sure, we know what Krispy Kreme is, but just what is the Krispy Kreme Challenge?

2400 calories, 12 doughnuts, 5 miles, 1 hour.  The mantra of the Krispy Kreme Challenge epitomizes the test of physical fitness and gastrointestinal fortitude.  What started as a challenge among ten friends has transformed into a nationally publicized charity race, and the number one tradition to complete before graduating from North Carolina State University.

Because it’s raised $1M to support the Children’s Hospital – and has pledged to raise another $1M over the next five years – I guess we’re suppose to overlook that little bit of grotesquery:

2400 calories, 12 doughnuts

Admittedly, I am not much of a Krispy Kreme donut fan to begin with. Tried one once, but found it too darned sweet. Apparently that was the verdict throughout the New England region – we are, after all, dyed in the fry-o-lator Dunkin Donuts fans in these parts – as there is only on Krispy Kreme location in our six states, and that’s at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. But a charity that supports children’s health by encouraging folks to consume a dozen doughnuts in one sitting running?

Isn’t there, like, a correlation between eating a dozen doughnuts at a time and obesity?

I mean, it’s not as if childhood obesity isn’t a problem. According to the
CDC, the rates have more than doubled over the past 30 years. As of 2012, 18% of kids aged 6-11 were obese, and 21% of those 12-19 years old. This, of course, sets kids on the path for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and puts them at “greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.” Which will then feed on itself – box of Krispy Kremes, anyone – leading to adult obesity which is associated with just about every bad thing that can happen to someone, health-wise.

One of the specialties of the Krispy Kreme specialty clinic, by the by, is – you guessed it – childhood diabetes. But, Mommy, why can’t I have a doughnut? The clinic is named the Krispy Kreme Clinic, so Krispy Kremes must be good for you…

And it’s not just Krispy Kreme, of course, that’s trying to tie it’s brand to a noble purpose that seems at complete cross-purposes with its fundamental, core business.

Out in Iowa, there’s a teacher on a nationwide tour of schools talking up how he lost weight on a McDonald’s diet. (The sponsor of his tour: Mickey D’s, of course.) Somehow, I trust that Morgan Spurlock’s Supersize Me experience is closer to the norm. Spurlock lived for a while on a strictly McDonald’s
diet, and, as a result, gained weight and felt like crap.

Nothing wrong, of course, with an occasional doughnut (if I do say so myself) or a burger and fries from one of the many fast-food emporia that dot our national landscape.

But to pretend that Krispy Kreme’s promotes children’s health, or that eating regularly at McDonald’s is good for kids (on top of the heavy-cal, heavy fat meals, there are those terrible Happy Meal toys to contend with), is pretty much beyond the pale.

So what’s next? The Philip Morris Center for the Treatment of Lung Cancer? Which would, come to think of it, actually be the right thing to do.

Businesses have the right to sell all sorts of not-so-good-for-you products. And we have the right to consume those not-so-good-for-us products, thank you. I don’t want to live in a world where the only food options are tofu, seitan, and brussel sprouts.

But putting the names of one of these not-so-gooders on a clinic goes a bit too far.

Maybe Krispy Kreme thinks its fooling us, but this sure looks like a see-through scrim to me.

A nibble of the Dunkin Donut to my sister Kath for steering this story my way. Her original source:  
Stat News: Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine.

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