Saturday, May 14, 2016

Newest Member of Bridge Builders to the Future - Dr. Jon Robison


An American National Treasure
in the field of health and fitness
Dr. Jonathan Robison

For those of you who follow the Coltons Point Times you noticed I spend a great deal of effort reviewing health care in America.  Several series of articles are posted covering issues like, The Broken American Health Care System, Lyme Disease - The Secret Pandemic Sweeping America, The GMO Debate, and many others.

As I report on developments in America, I am constantly in search of those dedicated practioners in the field whose pioneering work today will open the door to breakthroughs in the future.  The list is woefully short for the massive dimension of the problems we face.

There are a few criteria for people to make my exclusive list of bridge builders.

First, and foremost, their underlying motivation must not be financial gain but a commitment to serve people.

Second, they must recognize we have not found the keys to proper health care for the future. 
Third, they must recognize that health care must address all the societal and cultural issues that affect the mental and physical health of the individual.

Fourth, they must strive to communicate the work they pioneer to others in order to multiply the impact on the people.

Fifth, they must be darn good at what they do.

I am pleased to introduce the newest member of this exclusive club, Dr. Jonathan Robison, a teacher and many other things from the State of Michigan.

You would do well to follow the good doctor as he pioneers his new way of treating some of our most dangerous old health issues.  Dr. Jon Robison is a charter member of those building the bridge, to the future.

Here is a little about Dr. Jon.

Jonathan Robison holds a doctorate in health education/exercise physiology and a master of science in human nutrition from Michigan State University where he has been teaching for 20 years in the Nutrition and Physiology Departments. Dr. Robison is also adjunct Associate Professor at Western Michigan University where he teaches in the Holistic Health Care Program. He has authored numerous articles and book chapters on a variety of health-related topics and is a frequent presenter at conferences throughout North America. 

Dr. Robison specializes in health promotion and human behavior, with a particular interest in why people do what they do and don’t do what they don’t do. His presentations and workshops promote shifting health promotion away from its traditional, biomedical, control-oriented focus. His first book: 

The Spirit and Science of Holistic Health
More than broccoli, jogging and bottled water
…More than yoga, herbs and meditation

presents a radically new direction for health education and promotion. It is meant as a textbook for students and a guidebook for practitioners who wish to incorporate holistic principles and approaches into their work. 

Dr. Robison’s work served as the foundation for the award-winning KAILO - one of the first truly holistic employee-wellness programs in North America 

His new book: 

How To Build a Thriving Culture at Work: Featuring The 7 Points of Transformation 
with co-author Dr. Rosie Ward - delivers a blueprint for building thriving organizational cultures that free, fuel and inspire people to bring their best selves to work.

Dr. Robison has served as co-editor of the journal Health At Every SizeTM - and has been helping people with weight and eating-related concerns for more than 20 years. He is one of the featured health professionals in the powerful Documentary - America the Beautiful II - The Thin Commandments.

He is also a Certified Intrinsic Coach.

The following is one of the many articles he has published on the health issues of today.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The Real Causes of Poor Health: Addendum

Dr. Jon Robison at

In a recent post I examined the difficulties we seem to have focusing on and addressing the emotional, social and economic issues that are the real underlying causes of poor health in this country. I was gratified to see that the post seemed to strike a nerve with so many of the respondents. As I was considering the next piece I might write, I came across some headlines that grabbed my attention. Apparently, for the first time in decades, American’s life expectancy is stagnating.

The Rhetoric
This is not the first time that we have been warned about the possibility that this might happen. In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2005 obesity researchers claimed that:

“The steady rise in life expectancy during the past two centuries may soon come to an end…obesity may shave up to 5 years off the average life spans in the coming years.”
Fortunately for all of us with children, this gloomy forecast turned out to be inaccurate. In fact, when the authors were pressed to provide research to support their claim in an expose in Scientific American entitled “Obesity: An Overblown Epidemic?” they responded by saying:

“These are just back-of-the-envelope, plausible scenarios. We never meant for them to be portrayed as precise.”

That was more than 15 years ago. But in spite of the admission from the authors that they had basically fabricated this scary conclusion, the fear mongering around obesity and life expectancy for our children has continued unabated – being brought up ad nauseum at Conferences and in the media as if it were, or had ever been, an actual fact.
The Reality
So, I was a bit skeptical, but certainly curious when I saw the headlines in all the major news outlets saying:
"Increase in US life expectancy has stalled, CDC report confirms.”

Concerned that that this might be another diatribe about the perils of obesity and the need for people to join weight-loss programs, I perused the internet for related stories and found many:
·                                 “White Americans Are Dying Younger as Drug and Alcohol Abuse Rises. (NY Times)
·                                 “Rising suicide among adults aged 40-64 years: the role of job and financial circumstances.” (Am J Prev Med)
·                                 “White Women Suffered Biggest Drop in Life Expectancy In The U.S."(Huffington Post)
·                                 “U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30 Year High” (NY Times)

It turns out, rather frighteningly, that significant decreases in life expectancy particularly for poor, white American women are causing life expectancy for all Americans to remain flat. And what is precipitating these excess premature deaths? According to the Wall Street Journal, the stagnation in life expectancy is largely attributable to “increases in death rates from suicides, drug overdoses and related causes.” In fact, the author of the CDC report stated that, in 2014:

“Increases in the number of deaths from suicide, alcohol or drug overdoses offset declines in deaths for both white men and women from cancer, heart disease and other major chronic killers.”

And what about obesity? Again, According to the report:
“While some researchers have pointed to the sharp rise in obesity as a mortality factor, the CDC said there was no data for now to support that view.”

Seems like we have heard that one before!
You can peruse the finer details (particularly related to ethnicity and gender) about exactly what is going on in the CDC report. But the bottom line is that once again we may need to acknowledge that our myopic focus on individual health behaviors and the resultant coercive, bio-metric screenings and exercise and weight loss programs that are so ubiquitous at the workplace are very likely missing the mark, at best.

In my previous post I used an iceberg graphic to depict the fact that dealing with what is primarily above water in or out of the workplace is likely to produce minimal, sustained, positive outcomes. I want to end this post with another version of the pyramid.

The Food for Thought Pyramid

My friend and colleague Laura McKibbin, LICSW, has developed an amazingly creative graphic to display what a comprehensive and holistic description of health might look like. The Food For Thought Pyramid is structured like the now defunct food pyramid used to be, with the most important foundations of health at the base of the pyramid.

As you can see, the base of the pyramid has little to do with personal strivings for bio-metric or behavioral perfection and everything to do with the context of our existence and the circumstances we have been dealt. Without the life-sustaining foundation represented by the base of the pyramid, fruits and vegetables, exercise, and low cholesterol will likely have minimal impact on personal health. 

Genetics, luck and a range of social and cultural factors provide the critical platform on which a healthful existence is built and remind us about the complexities and importance of context to understanding the true meaning of human health. And while there is certainly a place for individual behaviors like nutrition and exercise (whether in the workplace or in the culture at large) they are always considered and addressed most effectively in the context of the social environment in which they exist, as this most recent disturbing data from the CDC clearly demonstrates. 

For people who are interested, Laura sells the pyramid on her site. Please note that although I helped Laura finalize the pyramid and Dr.Rosie Ward and I used it in our book, we get no reimbursement of any kind from its sale. And, true to Laura’s beliefs and work, part of the proceeds of each pyramid go to charity either of her choosing or the buyers. All in all, a great way to help move the understanding of the true causes of poor health into the 21st century.

Speaker Profile:
Jon Robison

Dr. Jon Robison is an accomplished speaker, teacher, writer
and consultant. He has spent his career working to shift
health promotion away from its traditional, biomedical,
control-oriented focus, with a particular interest in why
people do what they do and don’t do what they don’t do.

Jon has authored numerous articles and book chapters on a
variety of health-related topics and is a frequent presenter at
conferences throughout North America. He is also co-author of
the book, “The Spirit and Science of Holistic Health — More than
Broccoli, Jogging and Bottled Water, More than Yoga, Herbs and
Meditation,” a college textbook and a guidebook for practitioners
who wish to incorporate holistic principles and practices into their

This book provided the foundation for Kailo, one of the first
truly holistic employee wellness programs in the United States.
Kailo won prestigious awards in both Canada and The United
States, and the creators lovingly claim Jon as its father.

Jon has also been a national leader in the Health At Every
Size Movement for almost two decades. He has been responsible
for implementing Health for Every Body® — a unique alternative
to weight loss programs at the worksite in over 15 cities across
the United States in the past 2 years. He is also one of the
featured health professionals in the powerful documentary
America The Beautiful II: The Thin Commandments and has been
helping people struggling with weight- and eating-related
concerns for 25 years.

Contact Jon for:
Keynote Speaking Onsite Workshops
Pre-Conference Workshops
Conference Breakout Sessions
Workplace presentations

A few of Jon’s presentation topics:
Re-Thinking Health: Getting Ourselves Unstuck
from an Outdated Paradigm
Healthy Employees and Health Organizations:
Ushering Worksite Wellness into the 21st Century
Weight Loss at The Workplace: A Smart
Investment in Tough Economic Times...
or Money Down the Toilet?
Punished By Rewards: Rethinking the Use of
Incentives at the Workplace
Surviving “Risk Factor Frenzy”: The Research on
Health & Disease - What Does It Really Mean?
Health for Every Body: A Unique Worksite
Approach for Helping People Come To Peace with
Their Bodies and Their Food
Participation, Engagement and Behavior Change:
What Works and What’s Missing in Employee and Organizational Health?

Contact Jon at: 


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