Sometimes More is Less

by DavalosMcCormack on May 30, 2008

Like that title? Kind of deep huh! And strangely enough it’s actually true. Don’t you ever just feel overwhelmed by all the information on health that’s out there, that we’re drowning in studies and statistics and tips and strategies on how to lead healthier lives, lose weight, get six pack abs, look younger, live longer, and have better sex. Sometimes I feel that way just by picking up the magazine ‘Prevention’.

Now ‘Prevention’ is a comparatively small publication, small enough to fit into your pocket but man do they pack information into it. In a recent issue there is a list of 38 “new foods that fight disease, flatten your belly, fire up energy”. 38!! Where did they come up with that number. And how can eating stuff make your belly flatter? Then you can learn how to “look and feel 10 years younger”, “drop 10 pounds in 2 weeks”, learn how to gain “instant calm with 15 easy stress zappers”. Plus you get “4 cutting edge cures your doc won’t reveal” (then change doctors!) and how you can learn “the Diet Trick that heals your heart”. And that’s just on the cover!

When you get inside you can find out that if you have depression then maybe electro convulsive shock therapy is for you. That’s right. Fry your brain to cure depression. Now there is some good scientific evidence that this can be a useful option for people who have failed other therapies but the way it’s presented here is so breezy and chatty that it makes you think, “gosh, I am feeling a tad blue today, maybe I should use my home ECT kit”

The point is ‘Prevention’ is not a bad magazine, it is just that it throws so much stuff at you in such rapid fire fashion and in such bright colors and friendly graphics that the overall effect is overkill. Because it is trying to reach every single aspect of your life, from toe fungus to brain tumors, that in the end you just can’t absorb any of it.

‘Prevention’ is not the only magazine that does this, it’s just the one I happened to have on hand right now. ‘Health’ does the same, as do many other publications. The point is that one issue tells you 12 tips on how to lose that flab, and the very next one has ten strategies for a more slender you. So was the first one wrong? Is the second one new information? You get to a point where you feel either they don’t know what they are talking about or they are just trying to get you to buy the magazine, or maybe both. Either way the end result is you just don’t care and turn away from all the information they are throwing at you.

That’s a shame, because really we do have a much better sense today of what we need to do to lead healthier, happier lives. The danger is that by trying to package them in simplistic fashion with fun graphics and pictures of happy thin people we are turning off the very people most in need of that information. What’s the solution? Frankly, I’m not sure. I don’t think it likely we’re going to go back to plain type on white paper, but maybe health magazines could focus less on everything, and narrow it down to a few items so that we don’t all end up with sensory overload.

Or you could just read Healthy & Simple and let us sift through the clutter and tell you what matters. Hey, even if we’re wrong, at least we are free!

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