Don’t listen to Warren Buffet. Well, maybe consider his wealth management strategies, but please, for the love of your long-term health, ignore anything this man has to say about your diet. On Monday, the 85-year old Chairman of Berkshire-Hathaway, a principle investor in Coca-Cola, shared that his happiness from drinking soda outweighs his enjoyment from consuming fruits and vegetables. “I elect to get my 2600 or 2700 calories per day from foods that makes me feel good” said the renowned tycoon at his company’s annual meeting. Buffet’s comments were echoed by his 92 year-old vice chairman, Charles Munger. Munger suggested that people are making a “ghastly error” in avoiding cola as a significant and helpful source of hydration. God help us. Munger went on to say, ‘people have to drink eight or more glasses of water per day, and adding flavor to some of those drinks is a benefit.’ No Charles Munger, that is not in fact correct. Refined sugar, colouring and artificial flavouring agents have been implicated in the perpetuation of chronic disease such as diabetes and cancer. Nice try though.
At 85, Buffet’s genetic jackpot is akin to a trust fund recipient frivolously spending through their inheritance. They may look like they are worth a Billion bucks, but it doesn’t mean they earned it. Buffet’s recent comments are not the first time he has acknowledged his love of junk food. In response to a Forbes article in 2015, blogger Molly Fitzpatrick tried her hand at what she coined, Buffet’s 6-year-old diet. While her account was amusing, her own physiological limitations were clearly noted. A similar experiment was documented in Eric Schlosser’s New York Times bestseller, Fast Food Nation. (Spoiler alert, the average person simply cannot eat like Warren Buffet).
My practices focus on entrepreneurs and go-getters. They come to see me because they universally understand that their ability to perform, to achieve and to lead, is proportional to the quality of their health. The unfair advantage of these people is not a genetic predisposition; it is a deliberate and consistent investment in their health, their body and their life. Recently, a friend, and owner of a high-end clothing store in Toronto, was telling me about the spending practices of her clients. She was perplexed by my surprise that a significant proportion of her cliental divide their purchases among various credit cards and bank accounts. In some cases she noted that they return a few days later to ‘complete their outfit’ once their credit card cycle had renewed. Surprise was an understatement, I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been. Routinely I see new clients who have been managing their lifestyle choices through medication. Metformin for diabetes, Uloric for gout and statins to control their high cholesterol. They don’t consider themselves unhealthy; in fact many of these patients come in because they are looking to optimize their energy or libido. There is a blissful ignorance about the connection between how they want to feel and the choices they are making. They are expecting superhuman performance, while holding onto their Kryptonite.
At the end of the day, we all control what we eat and how we live. If the consequences of this mindset were really that insular, I couldn’t care less about Buffet’s preponderance for a Coca-Cola cleanse. The reality however, is that just as irresponsible investment structures can lead to systemic economic collapse, lifestyle choices, temporarily spared through pharmacological support, are simply delaying the inevitable bankruptcy of our entire healthcare infrastructure.
I respect Buffet’s intelligence, strategic vision and financial acumen, but I implore him to end his diatribe related to diet and soda. Perhaps if his net worth were more closely aligned the preventative health, we would hear him espousing a different dietary discourse.
“There is nothing wrong with a ‘know nothing’ investor who realizes it. The problem is when you are a ‘know nothing’ investor but you think you know something.” Warren Buffet
You may choose to follow Buffet’s investment and nutritional advice, but in an attempt to manage your expectations, I think it goes without saying, that his results on both fronts are not typical.