Wholefoods CEO Is An Idiot, But So What?

Those who follow diabetes dust-ups intently (I'm not one of them) have been pointing out an Op-Ed piece by Wholefoods CEO John Mackey in which he said, "Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices."

Reaction from the diabetic community has been predictably unfavorable, particularly from the Type 1 diabetic crowd, where we are the lottery "winners" of an autoimmune disorder and have no ability to prevent anything.

I've found that diabetics don't like getting blamed for the disease and there's no reason we should, since there's nothing that would've prevented it. And while it's true that stupid editorials from guys like Mackey don't help the public understanding of the disease, here's the thing: it will have zero effect on how I manage my diabetes today. I will eat the same, exercise the same and bolus the same, regardless of what Mackey says, thinks or writes, and regardless of what any of his readers come to believe about the disease.

It's interesting: in my high technology job, there have been many writers and so-called "experts" who don't get aspects of our product line and write things as incorrect as what Mackey wrote. I call these morons on the carpet for it publicly 100% of the time. And yet, I have absolutely do interest in doing that to Mackey. Here's the difference:

When someone writes something incorrect about the industry I'm in, it has the potential to directly harm my company. Potential customers can read these fallacies and use them as a basis for not doing business with us. That's bad and that's why I nip it in the bud every time. But John Mackey has no power of the control over my diabetes. He can say whatever he wants to. Hallie Berry can make her claims to cure Type 1 diabetes. While all of these things certainly screw up the public perception of the disease, they do nothing to affect my personal "battle" with it, which is actually more like a "marriage," but I digress.

For those who might say that Mackey's stupidity can affect public opinion to the degree that it would affect legislation that affects diabetes, perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but I'd like to think the diabetes lobbyists (who know infinitely more than Mackey) wield a bigger stick in congress than some half-cocked CEO who forged Yahoo comments a few years ago, but I concede the point is valid. Incorrect information is never a good thing, but allowing it to affect your own personal viewpoint of the condition - even for a second - is even worse.

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