Dr. Reginald Eadie has something critically important to tell people in the Detroit metropolitan area.
There is an alarming rate of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and kidney failure, and Detroit leads the state in overweight and obesity.
“We need to fully understand what is happening,” said Eadie, CEO of the Detroit Medical Center’s (DMC) Harper University Hospital, Hutzel Women’s Hospital and Detroit Receiving Hospital, “because in my mind, people are eating themselves to death.”
So in 2012, he took his concerns public by daring Detroiters to “Say No to Soda Pop” during month of November. Media outlets jumped on the story and Eadie rapidly rose to become the leader of a movement that’s grown in popularity and participants—all with the hospital’s blessing.
In the campaign’s second year, Eadie expanded the challenge to 61 days, made it “No Soda Pop and No Fried Foods” and set the dates for November 1 through December 31, the season when many people pack on extra pounds. In 2014, the goal became “Less Sugar, More Steps.” Now, with hundreds of followers, he is setting up for the 2015 challenge.
DMC is the primary sponsor of the movement. Throughout the year, Eadie uses his blog, Facebook and Twitter to inform and support participants. He has also published several healthy living books, including How to Eat and Live Longer.
The effort is working. And Eadie has become something of a celebrity doc, complete with a nickname: the Soda Pop Doc. Participants seem to be having fun with their progress updates, too. Here’s a tweet that made the rounds one year: “@DMC_Heals I joined the #61DayChallenge, @PagingDrEadie so I can fight this DadGum #Diabetes thats #KillingMeSoftly.”
“The DMC 61-Day Health Challenge says we care about this community,” Eadie said. “We care about the people we take care of at our eight hospitals. And we care about our children—many of whom are developing potentially lifelong health problems by not properly eating and not exercising.”
Eadie grew up in Detroit, attended Cass Technical High School and earned his medical degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine. After several executive positions at the DMC, Eadie decided to pursue an executive MBA at MSU to better understand the business side of health care.
“A common denominator for all physicians is a desire to help people live healthier lives,” said Eadie, a former emergency physician. “As a CEO, you have a more powerful advantage to help make that happen.”
He remains committed to helping Detroit residents to take charge of their health. “Sometimes the simplest steps take us the farthest,” he said with a smile.