This data is well known among the metabolic health / diabetes reversal community, and is typically quoted as “88% of American Adults are not in optimal metabolic health.” I posted on it previously, without visuals. See: Just Read: Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2016 (Are you in the 12%? here’s how I am)
This is a visual representation that breaks out the data by weight (BMI) as well as age group.
This shows that among an employed population (Age > 20 years), the overwhelming majority of people are not in metabolic health. This has implications for things like food procurement and other workplace environmental issues. The overwhelming majority of people also do not know their metabolic health status, unless such information has been collected (by blood tests) and compiled correctly.
The unintended consequences of a No Meat policy for this population – “Meat: No, Diabetes: Yes”
The most spectacular version of this is the WeWork company, which went “No Meat” in 2018:
As can be seen from the images above, while meat was restricted/made unavailable, ultra-processed foods remained in copious supply almost every day, all day (I know, I took these photos).
If the overwhelming majority of the population in this environment is struggling with metabolic health, ultra-processed foods are not a healthy alternative to meat.
One could say this is an extreme example (for an extreme company, as detailed in this recent expose), however, it’s fairly common wherever I go, because the reality is:
- If meat is taken off the menu, it is replaced with something
- The something it’s replaced with is usually less nutrient dense and more highly processed
Here are some examples of those:
I have many, many, many more photos like this. I’d like to add what I see behavior-wise in these situations, which is people coming back to the table, every 2 hours, to ingest more (probably as their insulin and sugar levels fall).
It would be better, and better for the environment (less waste, less health care costs) to cater no food at all.
Ideas for a more sensible food policy
- Looking at the WELL Building Standard, which includes a very reasonable nourishment approach, focused on reducing processed food across the board, rather then on one type of food
- Disclosure: I served (in a volunteer capacity) on one of the WELL Concept Advisories from 2018-2019, and I did provide input into the standard, but did not have a role in creating or editing it.
- Thinking about an overall sustainable food procurement policy that includes all food, not just meat
- Sure, sugar sweetened beverages are cheap to produce and emit less carbon in their production, does that mean this should be the primary source of calories in the workplace? Probably not.
- Decide if food needs to be procured at all. I often see already full attendees arrive at a venue to eat even more, because the food is availale. Food waste is a huge issue (and is much more likely to happen with non-meat items, by the way).
This is not a blog post about promoting meat consumption in the workplace
This is a blog post about promoting health in the workplace.
If removing meat assured that outcome, then I would promote it, too 🙂 .
It’s useful to remember that a metabolically unhealthy person is at some level fighting for their life and this has now become the majority of people in the workplace. Many in this situation do not feel comfortable vocalizing their fears publicly – in my experience, people often come to me privately. Threatening their health in the interest of what may be seen by some as virtue signaling may not be the best choice to make in the long run. Luckily, better choices can be made, because this is the decade of #DataOverDogma.
Happy to answer questions.
Definition of Metabolic Health used in the analysis above
- Waist circumference < 102 (men) / 88 (women) cm
- Blood pressure < 120/80
- Blood glucose < 100 mg/dl
- HbA1c < 5.7 %
- Triglycerides < 150 mg/dl
- HDL Cholesterol >= 40 (men) / 50 (women) mg/dl
- No meds for glucose, BP, cholesterol
(note that LDL cholesterol is not in the definition)
There is no drug available to reverse these markers. Only diet can do it.
Food for thought.
Araújo J, Cai J, Stevens J. Prevalence of Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2016. Metab Syndr Relat Disord [Internet]. 2018 Nov 27 [cited 2018 Nov 29];met.2018.0105.