Friday, May 6, 2011

Nurses: Pass on the Freebies

In the immediate wake of Star Wars Day and Cinco de Mayo, it may have escaped your notice that today was National Nurses Day. But don’t fret: National Nurses Week runs through May 12, so go celebrate by giving your favorite nurse a high five.

But once your excitement dies down a bit, stop for a moment to ponder the slings and arrows our nurses endure to help keep us healthy -- including irregular hours, night-shift work, physically and mentally draining responsibilities, and lack of sleep. (Two of our mighty 5 a.m. crew members are nurses, and I'm amazed at how they’re able to blast through CrossFit workouts before heading to the hospital for their shifts.)

All of this excess cortisol is taking its toll on the nursing profession as a whole. In May of 2008, the Journal of American Academy of Nurse Practitioners published a study of “the incidence of overweight and obesity in nursing professionals,” and found that 54 percent of the five thousand nurses surveyed were clinically obese or overweight. More than half of these nurses also stated that they “lack the motivation to make lifestyle changes” despite their excess weight.

Thankfully, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Dunkin’ Donuts and Cinnabon are here to save the day.

According to its Twitter feed, Sprinkles handed out free cupcakes to nurses today.

On Monday, Dunkin’ Donuts is delivering thousands of free donuts to hospitals AND giving away sweet, sweet beverages to nurses.

Cinnabon’s even more generous, offering free sugar bombs to our nation’s nurses all week long.

Did you notice that only purveyors of sugary, grain-based desserts are "celebrating" Nurses Week by giving away their products to nursing professionals? Is it just a coincidence that the manufacturers of the #1 source of calories in the Standard American Diet are trying to shovel their evil concoctions into the mouths of our health professionals?

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I suspect that these junk food peddlers know exactly what they're doing. It's no accident that they've decided to target an industry full of people whose high stress levels have triggered insatiable sugar cravings: They know full well that  nurses are particularly susceptible to sugar binges due to their elevated cortisol levels. And so these companies have decided to leverage Nurses Week as an excuse to distribute free samples and get more folks hooked on their dietary crack.

Well played, sugar-pushers. Well played.

[Previously: Cupcakes are Evil]