Learning from Shoes

A recent Denver Post article explored the new fitness footware on the market that promises the benefits of a workout, just by walking around. Claims run the gamut from “Tones and defines legs” to “Get a workout while you walk” to “Burn more calories with every step.”

Reading the various claims, I had to chuckle. Am I really supposed to believe I’ll get shapely legs just by wearing a particular shoe? Am I not a little smarter than that?

The Post actually consulted with two podiatrists who agreed that there’s no short cut to fitness. Shoes might ease a particular foot condition or add marginally to whatever walking or exercise you otherwise do, but wearing a particular foot piece is no substitute for lacing up the sneakers and hitting the trails.

Seeing this article on shoe claims reminded me of all the food claims I see walking through the grocery store:

  • “0 grams transfat, same great taste,” proclaims the bright yellow star on a box of frozen fish sticks. (Of course nothing in the star mentions the MSG, disodium inosinate, hydrolyzed corn gluten, TBHQ, methylcellulose and 21 other ingredients in those fish sticks.)
  • Another box of breaded fish fillets proudly announces that it’s a “good source of protein.” (Really, it is fish, after all.)
  • Then there’s a pizza “made with 100% cheese.” (Are pizzas made with something else these days?)
  • And what about Popsicles made with fruit juice (I’m sure a product development engineer thought long and hard to come up with that idea. Of course the miniscule, 10% juice content is dwarfed by these confections’ sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and Yellow 5, Red 40 and Blue 1 dyes.)

Again, am I really supposed to believe that these foods are serious sources of dietary nutrition?

Food claims are so common; maybe we no longer “see” them or subject them to the hard-nosed skepticism they deserve. That’s the beauty of seeing the same kind of game in a different context, in this case, in the context of shoes. It helps make the game more “visible.”

My advice: If you have trouble believing a pair of shoes will walk you into the pearly gates of heavenly fitness, you should have a similar trouble with the claims blazoned across every other packaged food product. Forget all the marketing jingles and slogans and claims. Stick to the one no-nonsense, un-confusing route to a healthy eating lifestyle: The Simple Prescription for Good Eating. More on that later. . . .


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