Michelle Obama red dressLet’s forget about politics and focus on our biggest challenge in women’s health, according to Dr Janine Clayton, the new NIH Director of the Office of Women’s Health. This is a topic I have been mulling over for some time, both in my Real Women on Health on-line radio show three weeks ago with Dr. Clayton, and later in my Huffington Post and on my personal blog.

Health care marketers today have a great opportunity to help 40 million boomer women to fight heart disease, reduce their risk for heart disease and live longer and better than their ancestor sisters. For sure, this is a significant and compelling marketing challenge, that goes beyond new technology, devices and diagnostics. These stats from the Women’s Heart Foundation tell a disheartening lifestyle story for 8 million women living with heart disease, especially the 35,000 under age 65.

• 42% of women who have heart attacks die within 1 year, compared to 24% of men.
• Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.
• Nearly two-thirds of the deaths from heart attacks in women occur among those who have no history of chest pain

What’s the Culprit We Need to Highlight? Inflammation, increased blood pressure and the risk of stroke.

What’s the Barrier We Need to Address? How to empower women to reduce inflammation and change their lifestyle, unassociated with pain or fever.

Conveying the science is critical to empowering women to change their lifestyle. Women need and want proof that your solution is going to reduce the risk of heart disease and help them look good and feel good. While the ubiquitous red dress is helpful, let’s be clear. It’s no longer good enough for a woman’s red dress to mask her quite high BMI (over 35) even though she looks and feels great in it.

Begin with Educational Marketing!

The science behind heart disease can start out simply by educating women about burning calories and reducing fat. There are several ways to accomplish this, through proper nutrition and exercise, but speeding up a slowing metabolism, especially in midlife, is the big idea.

The problem for communicators is the vague meaning of the word “metabolism”. First, it’s four syllables and not at all “catchy”. Second, metabolism is about “science”…not about “looking good or feeling good”. Therefore, most women won’t find the rationale empowering or fun.

If you’re a lifescience marketer, you must connect the science with what matters most to women. Your friends and foes are the women’s magazines and the fashion industry (save for Tyra Banks’ recent admonition of waif models). Both have convinced most girls by 7 years of age that thin is good. This has absolutely nothing to do with speeding up metabolism through exercise and proper nutrition.

Our collective mission is this: We need to encourage women to get strong not skinny. Muscle power is the engine that burns fat. Here’s one way to fire up the muscle power: Strength training.

Join the conversation here at KC Health. Let’s pick up on the popular “like” for Mrs. Obama’s inaugural red dress and her strong arms to shift a marketing mindset change so women can finally Get Strong…Not Skinny!