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AHS13 Hamilton Stapell — The End of Paleo: Is the Ancestral Health Movement Going Mainstream? I Wouldn’t Bet on It!
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AHS13 Hamilton Stapell — The End of Paleo: Is the Ancestral Health Movement Going Mainstream? I Wouldn’t Bet on It!

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Hamilton's talk may be viewed at http://youtu.be/ArcSIg3cYcw …

Hamilton's talk may be viewed at http://youtu.be/ArcSIg3cYcw

Complete abstracts along with presenter bios and photos, are available on our website:
http://www.ancestralhealth.org/post/2013-ancestral-health-symposium-ahs13

Abstract:
The current Ancestral Health movement is often thought to be on the verge of going mainstream. Many within the movement believe this would lead to positive health (and financial) outcomes for both individuals and society as a whole. However, the transition from a small, highly-devoted group of adherents to a mass following will be far more difficult than commonly assumed. In addition, this presentation will gauge the current size of the Ancestral Health movement by examining empirical data. It also identifies the two types of individuals that typically go paleo. The key commonality between both groups is a very high level of motivation, which also suggests limited penetration of the Ancestral Health movement in the future.

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  • -Here, for example, we see searches for the term “paleo diet” taking off between 2010 and 2013.
  • -We’ve also seen the publication of several New York Times best-selling books, including The Paleo Solution (2011) and Practical Paleo (2012).
  • -And now there’s even an Idiot’s Guide to the Eating Paleoand Living Paleo for Dummies, both published this year.
  • -We’re also seeing some greater acceptance within the medical community,-With thePaleo Physicians Network now listing hundreds of practitioners both around the United States and abroad.
  • -And paleo advocates are even appearing in mainstream media outlets.-Here we see Nell Stephenson and Loren Cordain appearing on The Dr. Oz Show earlier this year.
  • -All of this recent popularity is also backed up by some empirical data.-Back in March, I ran an online survey of the ancestral health community, and asked folks, “How long have you been living a paleo lifestyle?”
  • -And 85% said 3 years or less.-Or, in other words, 85% of respondents have joined the movement within the last 3 years.-This is a remarkably high number.-So, clearly, the paleo movement has been growing recently.
  • -But what about the future?-Where are things headed? And what will happen next?
  • -My main argument today is that the paleo movement will continue to grow modestly, but will not break through to the mainstream.-In other words, it will remain a fringe movement, with a small but highly dedicated group of followers.
  • -In order to build this argument, I will proceed in threeparts:-First, I’ll discuss the types of people who typically go paleo, and why they do so.-Second, I’ll identify the 3 main obstacles to paleo going mainstream.-Third, I’ll present some of the common counterarguments to my position.-And, finally, I’ll wrap things up in a Conclusion at the end.
  • -But before I proceed, let me first define what I mean by “paleo.”-For our purposes today, I’m going to define the term as: “the effort to optimize human health by examining our evolutionary or ancestral past,”-which often includes such things as diet, exercise, sleep, sun exposure, and social connections, among others.
  • OK, so on to Part I, who goes paleo and why.
  • -Well, I believe there are two main reasons why people go paleo.-First, there are those who are sick, and for whom conventional medicine has failed.-This is the most important reason, and I believe represents the majority of folks in the paleo movement.
  • -And, second, there are those people who are seeking performance, usually physical or mental performance.-These people are the “optimizers.” They are trying to find the best way to do things: the best way to eat, the best way to workout, and the best way to optimize their health and performance.
  • -And there’s some empirical evidence to back this up…-Again, this is from the online survey that I ran early this year.-In oursurvey, the #1 reason for going paleo was “weight loss” at 31%.-Now, I think we can understand this number in a couple of different ways.-On the one hand, we can understand this desire to lose weight as a form of vanity, the desire to look good in a bathing suit.-Or, on the other hand, and I think more accurately, we can understand obesity and being overweight as a kind of disease, specifically a “Disease of Civilization,” which conventional medicine has a hard time treating. -In fact, we know that over 90% of folks who lose 20 lbs or more will eventually gain back that weight.
  • -So if we understand being overweight as kind of illness, then the “recovery from illness” category more than doubles, pushing it to over 50%.-Also, when we looked at the “Other” category, we found that about 4% of respondents cited some specific disease, like IBS or arthritis, as the primary reason for going paleo.-So if we add in those specific illnesses, then the grand total becomes 56%, making it by far the most important motivating factor.
  • -Then we have the “improvement of athletic and mental performance” at a total of 11%.
  • -We also see the response “live more naturally,” at 17%, which I think is pretty interesting, but don’t have time to fully talk about today.
  • -So, returning to our two main groups…-For me, the key point here is that these two groups share something.-They share an important commonality.-And that commonality is a high level of motivation. -And I would say this is often “intrinsic motivation.” -In other words, both of these groups are highly self-motivated.-These people are highly motivated to get healthy, or to improve their performance, or some combination of the two.
  • -In fact, I would argue that it takes a “special kind of person” to switch to an ancestral health lifestyle.-Think about the kinds of people you meet here at the conference; or think about the people in your life who have adopted a paleo lifestyle. What are they like? What do they do?-In my experience, these people are often personal trainers, coaches, small business owners, professionals like doctors, dentists, and physical therapists, academics, money managers, consultants, and entrepreneurs. -They are often Type-A personalities.-And what do they have in common? Again, they are highly motivated, self directed, often willing to challenge authority, and usually have access to education and resources.
  • -And, again, there is some empirical evidence to back this up…-So, in terms of education, we see that 74% of respondents hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher,-which is 2.5 times higherthan the national average at 30%.
  • -And we see 5% of respondents holding PhDs, while the national average is less than 1%.-That’s 5 times higher than the national average.
  • -The story is similar when it comes to income.-41% of respondents have a household income of $100,00 or more,-which is more than 2.5 times the national average.-So, we see paleo folks being relatively well-educated and affluent compared to the population as a whole.-In fact, at PaleoFX in Austin this year, someone said to me that “paleo is the lifestyle of the 1%,” while this is a bit of an exaggeration, it does capture certain aspects of the movement.[-Median national household income: $45,018 (Census Bureau, Feb. 2012).]
  • -Speaking of income and education, we also know that Socio-Economic-Status (SES) is tied to race.-And we found that 92% of respondents in our survey were white.-The national average is only 72% white and shrinking.-So, at the moment of growing racial diversity in this country, with Asian American, African American, and Hispanic populations all increasing, the ancestral health movement is overwhelmingly white.-That, by itself, does not bode well for the future of paleo.
  • -Now, since I’m talking about demographics, let me give you a bit more information about the typical respondent to our survey. -Hopefully, this will help round out the picture of who goes paleo and why.-First, a clear majority were women, 56% to 44%.
  • -Next the mean age was 38 years old, with a standard deviation of 11.-So many of these folks would be classified as “middle aged.” [-Middle aged: 35-54 (US Census Bureau)]
  • -And, finally, we found that the majority was married or with a life partner.-In fact, 68% of respondents report beingin a committed relationship.-Now, as an aside, let me say that one of the things that I find most interesting about the survey results is how much they differ from the common media stereotypes…
  • -More often than not, the typical paleo adherent is portrayed as a vain, single, white, young man who eat lots of red meat.-In other words, they are usually portrayed as “modern cavemen.”-But, as I have just discussed, most of those stereotypes just don’t hold up.-So, there seems to be a real disconnect between who actually goes paleo and the common representations in the media.
  • -OK, let me try to wrap up and summarize Part I.-First, who goes paleo?... [Read slide]
  • -And why do these folk go paleo?-Again, there are two main reasons… [Read slide]-This all adds up to a “special kind of person”… [Read slide]-And I think this high level of motivation is especially important because, let’s face it, it takes some effort to make the switch to a paleo lifestyle.
  • -Which leads me to Part II of my talk:-The 3 main obstacles to paleo going mainstream, which I’m going to label as Cultural, Physiological, and Social.
  • -OK, so obstacle #1:-My main argument here is that Neolithic foods are tightly woven into the fabric of our culture.-They are so tightly woven, in fact, that it’s no exaggeration to say that human civilization was literally built on Neolithic foods.-And this is no accident; this is no coincidence.
  • -It’s grains, legumes, and dairy that allowed early populations to expand, and have sustained us for thousands of years.-So it’s Neolithic foods that really allowed for the development of civilization,-Including things like: the division labor, the accumulation of wealth, greater social hierarchy, and new forms of technology, among others.-In other words, human civilization was literally founded on, and continues to be based on, Neolithic foods.
  • -So without this… (early agriculture)
  • -…you wouldn’t have that.-That, of course, is downtown Atlanta.
  • -Thus, my point is that it’s going to be really hard to remove grains, legumes, and dairy from our daily lives.-Much harder than many people realize.-Let’s talk about a few examples…
  • -First, how about the importance of bread within Christianity?-The Lords Prayer says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
  • -And, of course, bread is absolutely central in the Christian Sacrament of Communion.-That’s when the priest takes bread and wine…
  • -…and turns it into the body and blood of Christ.-In this context, how does giving up bread (or grains) sound to a devote Christian?
  • -Next we could talk about the importance of matzo in the Jewish holiday of Passover.
  • -And let’s think about centrality of rice in many Asian cultures.
  • -Andhow about the cultural importance of tortillas in Latin America?-Or, let’s bring this a bit closer to home.
  • -Can you imagine awedding…
  • -…without a wedding cake?
  • -Or a ball game…
  • -…without the hotdog?
  • -And how could we live without mom’s apple pie?
  • -And then there’s this problem…
  • -Wouldn’t it be totally unpatriotic to get rid of American cheese?!-Now, I know there are paleo substitutes for many of things.-But my point here is to highlight the huge cultural significance of these foods. -And, again, my main argument in this section is that Neolithic food are deeply woven into the fabric of our culture, thus it’s going to be really hard to remove them from our lives.
  • -OK, I’d like to move on to the 2nd main obstacle.-My main argument here is that Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – appear to be addictive.-So giving up grains, legumes, and dairy represents a real physical or physiological challenge.
  • -And why are they addictive?-Well, first, they taste good.
  • -Who can resist this?
  • -Or this? The Whole Food’s cookie bar. -I took this while in Austin for PaleoFX.-So, whether we like it or not, sweets taste good, and we often crave them.-And these cravings often lead us to eat for reasons other than hunger, which can lead to all kind of problems.
  • -And these problems even made the cover of National Geographic this month.
  • -And these sweet foods are really hard to compete with…-Hereis the Google trend line for “paleo diet” that I showed you earlier.
  • -And here’s that same trend line plotted against the term “cupcake.”-”paleo diet” is in blue, and “cupcake” is in red.-Clearly, paleo can’t compete with cupcakes.
  • -We canalso become addicted to Neolithic Foods because they tap into a real evolutionary need.
  • -Specifically, in a scarce environment, having a preference for highly sweet and fatty foods has survival and reproductive advantages.
  • -But, unfortunately, those same preferences often lead to problems in our current food environment of overabundance.
  • -Also, unfortunately for us, food manufacturers today know all about these pre-programmed preferences, and do everything thing they can to exploit them.-In other words, the food game is “fixed” against us.-Multinational corporations literally spend billions of dollars to make foods hyper-palatable, and to keep us coming back for more.
  • -If you haven’t seen it, I’d encourage you to check out Michael Moss’s new book, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.-In it, he shows us how corporations such as Kraft, Nabisco, and General Mills have used the latest technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages, and to enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure.-It’s one of the most revealing, and damning, accounts of the food industry that I have read.
  • -This next point is really important…-All of this is even more problematic because the typical American diet consists of 70%Neolithic or Industrial foods, which includes: cereals, dairy products, refined sugars, refined vegetable oils, and alcohol.-So, in other words, when we ask someone to go paleo, we are asking them change or give up almost three quarters of their diet, and the very three quarters that’s the most addictive.
  • -And, finally, there is some research evidence that suggests just how addictive these foods can be.-I’d like to briefly mention 5 studies to illustrate this point…
  • -First, this study from 2006 shows how the main reward and pleasure center of the brain lights up more intensely for foods like chocolate cake and pizza than for blander foods like vegetables.
  • -This next study from 2007shows that rodents will become quicklyaddicted to sugar, often choosing it overcocaine.-And there is also the suggestion that a similar thing can happen in humans.
  • -And this new study from 2013 shows how high-glycemic foods caused subjects to report more hunger, and to consume more food in the postprandial period.-In other words, eating high-glycemic food makes you want to eat even more food later on.-And this study also showed that high-glycemic foods produced greater activation in parts of the brain that regulate cravings, reward, and addictive behaviors.
  • -And I have twostudies showing that wheat and dairy can activate opiod receptors in our bodies, and thus possibly cause foods addictions.-The first one is about dairy from 2003.
  • -And the second is an older study from 1979 showing the addictive potential of wheat.-So, again, my main argument here is that many Neolithic foods can be addictive, and some have even been designed to be hyper palatable, so it’s going to take a great deal of effort to remove them from our daily diets.
  • -And thisbrings me to the third point, which I would call Social or “Values” obstacles.-Specifically, today we see a sense of entitlement, which commonly privileges transitory “fun” over true mental and physical “flourishing,” or what the ancient Greeks called “eudemonia.”-And this desire to just have fun manifests itself in different ways…
  • -First there is the “I deserve it” syndrome.-We have all heard a friend, or a co-worker, or a family member, or perhaps even ourselves say:-”I deserve that cookie.”-Or ”I deserve that new car” (even though I can’t afford it).-We simply don’t like being told that we can’t eat certain foods, especially foods that have high emotional or cultural significance.-And we’ve also been told again and again “everything in moderation.”-This approach just doesn’t line up with the paleo model.
  • -And “instant gratification” is another aspect of this as well.-We want things, and we want them now. We want the results now. We don’t want to wait.-And most of us don’t want to struggle to get what we want, or to really challenge ourselves.
  • -I ask my students all the time, “What’s most important to you?” Or, “What’s your goal when you get out of college?” -And, more often than not, the answer is the same: “I want to be happy!”-I don’t mean to just pick on my students here; I think most people feel this way.-And I wouldn’t say this is necessarily their fault. Society tells us all the time to “be happy!”-In fact, there’s even a whole sub-field within Psychology that studies how to be happier, which is called “Positive Psychology.”
  • -And this obsession with “Being Happy!” even made the cover of Time Magazine last month (July 8, 2013).
  • -And, heck, happiness is even woven into our American Creed.-As Americans, we are told from birth to pursue “Life, Liberty, and Happiness.”-The result is a kind of cult of personal happiness, which shapes all aspects of our life today, from morality and personal relationships to the daily choices that we make.
  • -In fact, a recent New York Times article, entitled “The Gospel According to Me,’” makes exactly this point.-The two authors conclude that “personal well-being and happiness have become the primary goals of human life.”
  • -But, I’d like to remind you all that “being happy” is not the only possible goal in life.-Instead, we as individuals, or society as a whole, could value most: social justice, artistic creation, the reduction of suffering, athletic performance, the production of knowledge, sexual ecstasy, or what the ancient Greeks call “eudemonia,”-which, as I mentioned a moment ago, is best translated as kind of holistic mental and physical flourishing.-And, in many ways, I think that’s what the ancestral health movement is really all about.
  • -But, as I just said, I think most people today are more interested in “having fun,” and, frankly, in “escapism.”-And, as a result, they are not willing – or motivated enough – to invest the time, energy, and resources into living a paleo lifestyle. -And, let’s be honest, it does take some effort.-I also believe this is a cross-generational issue.-So I’m going to be an equal opportunity offender here:-I think we find this feeling of “entitlement” and a desire to just have “fun” in...
  • -in Millennials…
  • -and in GenXers...
  • -and in Baby Boomers.
  • -Now, of course, the forms of fun and escapism vary from time to time, and from generation to generation, but we are quite familiar with what these look like:
  • -movies…
  • -television…
  • -video games and the web…
  • -pulp fiction…
  • -professional sports…
  • -and various forms of self medication (including drugs and alcohol).-I would argue that all of these activities fail to promote true physical and mental flourishing,-And they also lead to what the cultural critic, Daniel Mendelsohn, has called “the reality problem.”
  • -In his new book, Waiting for the Barbarians, Mendelsohn argues that new technologies and media “allow us to be private in public,” and have caused a “profound alteration in our sense of what is truth and what is fiction.” -In other words, we live in an era in which it’s possible to permanently escape into a kind of personal reality, separate for any common reality, or separate from any kind of “Truth.”-He calls this “the preeminent cultural event of our day.”-And I think this presents a real obstacle for the ancestral health movement going forward.
  • -Now, while we are on this subject, I’d like totalk about another kind of “reality problem.”-So far in this section of my presentation, I’ve been discussing societal values, -and another place where paleois out of step with the mainstream is its emphasis on “scientific reason.”-Simply put, there is a strong current of “anti-intellectualism” and “pseudoskepticism” in our society today.-We see this when it comes to the issue of climate change, and also when it comes to the Theory of Evolution.
  • -So here are the survey results of the ancestral health community.-65% of respondent believe in Evolution by natural selection without any influence from God.-That’s pretty high…
  • -…and that dwarfs the national average.-In the most recent national poll, only 14%, that’s right only 14%, of Americans believe in straight evolution by natural selection.-That leads me to an obvious question:-How is ancestral health movement ever going to convert the majority of the population, when most Americans don’t even believe in the fundamental premise upon which the movement is based!?-I don’t have a good answer for you.
  • -I also think that most people within the paleo movement fail to appreciate how revolutionary all of this is.-Stop and think about it for a moment: removing Neolithic foods, and walking everywhere, and turning off your computer, and going to bed when it gets dark out…-All of these things radically alter the way we live, work, eat, and socialize.-And if society as a whole adopted these practices, it would have profound political and economic implications.-And I’m not the first person to recognize this.-I’d like to offer you two quotes…
  • -The first quote is from Andrew Badenoch.-I think this quote is really important, so I’d like to read it: “Agriculture – particularly grains – and the state are, and always have been, mutually-dependent and mutually-reinforcing. Disengaging from the system of industrial agriculture and branded or otherwise ‘value-added’ food products is a fundamentally revolutionary act that erodes GDP and the tax base in turn.”-In other words, dismantling industrial-grain-based agriculture means nothing less than dismantling the modern state.
  • -And the second quote is from Mark Sisson: “If we were to magically convert the entire world to paleo… that would tank the economy.”-It would tank the economy because, according to Sisson, 30% less food would be needed to feed everyone, and health costs would dramatically drop, leaving a huge gap in our GDP.-There is much more I could say about how revolutionary paleo is, but I’m going to leave it here for now because I need to wrap up this section of my talk.
  • -So to pull together Part II, I’ve highlighted the 3 main obstacles facing the ancestral health movement: those are Cultural, Physiological, and Social.
  • -But notice what I’ve left out:1) Large vested interests.2) Entrenched professional organizations.3) And the relatively high cost and inconvenience of going paleo at this time. -Now, these 3 things are important and significant, and are often mentioned in the paleo blogosphere.-But I would argue that they not nearly as significant and important as the broader Cultural, Physiological, and Social Obstacles that I just outlined above.
  • -This brings me to Part III.-So far I’ve talk about who goes paleo and why, and the main obstacles to paleo going mainstream. -Now I’d like to turn to some of the common counterarguments to my position.-And, I’d like to talk about two specific examples.
  • -OK, so counterargument #1:-We all know health movements come and go.-In fact, about 100 years ago, we saw the development of something very similar to “paleo” called the Physical Culture Movement, which, of course, faded away.-But, I often hear, “This time is different!” -And that argument typically goes something like this…
  • -“This time is really different. Today we have the internet, and social media, and Tumblr and Twitter, and everything else. This time we are going to change the world!”
  • -But here is my response: The internet is only a tool. A powerful tool for education, but a tool nevertheless.-Education is simply not enough. Spreading the word through social media and the internet are not enough.-Education is not the same thing as motivation.-And education does not automatically lead to behavior change.-Let me give you an example to help make my point…
  • -For decades, cigarettes have carried warning labels, and there have been massive public health campaigns to inform the public about the dangers of smoking.
  • -And around the world, some of these warnings have been quite graphic.-Here we see examples from Australia, Canada, and Uruguay.-I like the one on the right from Uruguary. It says, “If you smoke, you won’t get it up.”
  • -Yet, many, many people continue to smoke.-My point here is that despite having the education, despite knowing that it is bad, people continue to do it anyway.-Again, education is not enough.-Motivation is necessary as well.
  • -In fact, I would argue that motivation is one of key parts of a much more complicated equation.-So education plus motivation and ability and the proper triggers leads to behavior change.-Which recalls the first part of my talk about the importance of a high level of motivation in the folks who go and stay paleo.
  • -So, on to the 2nd counterargument…-You might say, “OK, so it might take more than the internet. But surely we are close to a tipping point. A tipping point where paleo will go mainstream.”-And you might add: -”Just look at all the rapid growth that you discussed at the beginning of your talk today. And clearly paleo is the best approach to health today, and we know the best information always rises to the top!”
  • -Here is my response:-We are nowhere close to a tipping point. -But to fully understand this, we need to look at the “Law of Diffusion of Innovation.”
  • -So what is the Law of Diffusion of Innovation?-It explains how successful ideas spread.-But rather than describe it myself, I going to let Simon Sinek [Cynic] do it for me.-Back in 2011, he gave one of the most popular TED Talks of all time. It has received more than 11 million total views.-I’d like to show a 2:00 minute clip of his talk.-VIDEO: http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html (11:07-12:42)
  • -OK, here again we have the Law of Diffusion of Innovation.-So where exactly is the Ancestral Health Movement on this graph? That is the key question.-In order to answer this question, we need to know the current size of the movement…
  • -…which is actually quite a difficult question to answer for a couple of reasons:-First, people define “paleo” in differently.-And, second, being paleo can be quite fluid: some people come and go, and some people adopt certain lifestyle changes but not others.
  • -Now in order to accurately determine the size of the movement, you would need a large, national telephone survey, which is rather costly, and has not been done yet.
  • -In the absence of such a survey, I’ve tried to estimate the current size the movement.-So over the past year, I’ve collected empirical data: things like book sales, webpage views, and podcast downloads.-And I’ve also asked a number of “paleo” experts.-And here is the number I’ve come up with…
  • -Somewhere between 1 and 3 million people in the United States. [PAUSE]-Now that’s a pretty big number…
  • -But let’s compare it to the national population, which is 310,000,000 (US Census, 2012)
  • -If we take the high end of the estimate and assume that 3 million people are paleo, that only gives us 1% of the population.
  • -So returning to our graph…-that puts us here, at the very bottom of the curve.
  • -Which is nowhere near the Tipping Point of 15-18% that Simon Sinek talked about in the video.-And, by the way, I would describe “being mainstream” somewhere above that 18%.-And you would need something like 46 million people to be paleo to be at that critical Tipping Point.
  • -Heck, at 1%, we probably aren’t in the “Early Adopter Phase” yet.
  • -And, remember, only 14% of Americans actually believe in Evolution by natural selection. -Once again, this seems like a real problem for the future of paleo.
  • -In any case, maybe you think my estimate is low.-But even if you were to double size of the paleo movement to 6 million, or 2% of the total population, that would still put us here in the category of “Innovators.”-And, by the way, I think these “Innovators” are exactly the “Special Kind of Person” that I was talking about earlier in Part I of my talk.
  • -So my main point here is that we are a long way from a tipping point, thus a long way from paleo going “mainstream.” -Now, while we are on the topic of paleo going mainstream, I want to say a final word about the online survey.-My basic argument today has been that the ancestral health movement will continue to grow modestly, but will never break through to the mainstream.
  • -And, somewhat to my surprise, many of the respondents to our survey felt the same way.-In fact, two thirds said that the majority of their country’s population will never live a paleo lifestyle.-So it appears as though many within the movement are not terribly optimistic either. [PAUSE]
  • -Finally, to the Conclusion.-My purpose today was not to pass final judgment on the paleo movement.-Instead, my real purpose was to start a conversation about the future.
  • -And, in many ways, the origins of this conversationgo back to AHS12 in Boston a year ago.-At the end of my talk about the similarities between the Physical Culture Movement and the Paleo Movement, there was time for one question.-And Seth Roberts asked the perfect question. He asked me, “Will the paleo movement go mainstream? Or will it fade away like the Physical Culture Movement did 100 years ago?”-My answer was that the paleo movement would not go mainstream.-So, my talk today really represents the complete answer to Seth’s important question.
  • -It also represents the third and final part of trilogy for me.-First, in Boston last year I spoke about the historical origins of the Ancestral Health Movement.-Then at PaleoFX13 I gave a talk on the current state of the movement.-And, finally, today I talked at length about the future of paleo movement.
  • -In the end, the overall goal of this Trilogy was simple:-I wanted to encourage a broader conversation about where we are, and where we are headed.-Right now, far too many people within the movement simply assume thatpaleo will continue to grow and expand.-But we can’t take that growth for granted.-Nothing is destined to occur, no matter how right you think you are.-Instead, we – together, as a group – need toidentify the most significant challenges ahead of us.-And then develop effective strategies to overcome them.-[END] I’ve tried to start that process today… and I look forward to continuing this conversation with all of you in the future.-That concludes my presentation. Thank you very much for your attention. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
  • -What’s going on here? What’s the connection? Why are these two movements so similar?-My main argument is that…(read slide)-So 100 years ago, the Physical Culture Movement was a response to the Industrial Revolution, and today the Paleo Movement is a reaction to the Digital Revolution.
  • -Finally, to conclude this section, I’d like to read this rather long quote because I think it really nails the typical paleo convert:-READ QUOTE-Now, I think this is a really remarkable quote. It was written more than 30 years ago about the Physical Culture Movement of 100 years ago, but it just as easily could be talking about the paleo movement of today.-Just think about how many people you know who are like this: people who go paleo, who have a remarkable transformation, and then want to start a blog, or write a cookbook. They won’t shut up about it.-But, seriously, they are highly motivated, and they want to share their amazing experience with everyone.-And I think this high level of motivation is especially important because, let’s face it, it takes some effort to make the switch to a paleo lifestyle. [--James Whorton, Crusaders for Fitness, 1982, p 9.]
  • -People want to feel special; they want to feel part of a special club.-Right now paleo does that.-Frankly, I’m not sure it everyone in the movement wants it to be mainstream.
  • -Vegan kills paleo.
  • Transcript

    • 1. The End of Paleo: Is the Ancestral Health Movement Going Mainstream? I Wouldn’t Bet on It! Hamilton M. Stapell, PhD Associate Professor Department of History SUNY New Paltz
    • 2. Google searches “paleo diet” 2013 2010
    • 3. New York Times Best sellers 2011 2012
    • 4. For Idiots and Dummies… 2013 2013
    • 5. PPN
    • 6. Paleo Diet on The Dr. Oz Show April 22, 2013
    • 7. How long have you been living a paleo lifestyle? Ancestral Health Online Survey March 2013 (n = 4691)
    • 8. How long have you been living a paleo lifestyle? 85% within the past three years 85%
    • 9. The Future?
    • 10. • Thesis: The paleo movement will grow modestly, but will not go mainstream.
    • 11. Outline: • Part I: Who goes paleo? And Why? “A Special Kind of Person” • Part II: Three Main Obstacles “Cultural, Physiological, Social, Oh my!” • Part III: Common Counterarguments “Aren’t Things Different This Time?” • Conclusions “Just the Beginning”
    • 12. “Paleo” • Definition: The effort to optimize human health today by examining our evolutionary or ancestral past. – Diet – Exercise – Sleep – Sun exposure – Social connections
    • 13. “A Special Kind of Person” or Part I: Who goes paleo? And why?
    • 14. Who goes paleo? And Why? • Two main reasons: 1) People who are sick, and for whom conventional medicine has failed (majority)
    • 15. Who goes paleo? And Why? • Two main reasons: 1) People who are sick, and for whom conventional medicine has failed (majority) 2) People who are seeking performance, namely physical and mental performance
    • 16. What was your primary reason for going paleo?
    • 17. What was your primary reason for going paleo? “Weight loss” (31%) + “Recovery from illness” (21%) + “Other” (4%) = 56% 4%
    • 18. What was your primary reason for going paleo? 11%
    • 19. What was your primary reason for going paleo?
    • 20. Who goes paleo? And Why? • Two main reasons: 1) People who are sick, and for whom conventional medicine has failed (majority) 2) People who are seeking performance, namely physical and mental performance Key commonality: High Motivation
    • 21. “A Special Kind of Person” • Highly motivated • Self directed • Willingness to challenge authority • Access to education and resources Examples: personal trainers, coaches, small business owners, professionals, academics, consultants, entrepreneurs, etc.
    • 22. What is the highest level of education you have completed? 74% hold bachelor’s degree or higher National average: 30.4% (Census Bureau, Feb. 2012) 74%
    • 23. What is the highest level of education you have completed? 5% hold Doctoral degree National average: less than 1% (Census Bureau, Feb. 2012)
    • 24. What is your combined annual household income? 41% earn $100,000 or more National average: 15.9% (Census Bureau, Feb. 2012) 41%
    • 25. What is your race? National average: 72% white and shrinking (U.S. Census, 2010)
    • 26. What is your gender?
    • 27. What is your current age? Mean age: 38 (standard deviation: 11) Age range: 18-85 years old Mean age for men: 37 Mean age for women: 39 Middle aged! (35-54 Census Bureau)
    • 28. Please indicate your current family structure. 68% in a committed relationship. 68%
    • 29. Common Paleo Stereotypes: Vain, single, white, young men who eat lots of meat. BodyBuilding.com, December 2010 Competitor Magazine May 2012 NPR.org June 2012
    • 30. Summary: Who goes paleo? Despite the media stereotypes… • Majority women (and growing) • “middle aged” (27-49 years old) • Overwhelmingly white • Highly educated • Relatively affluent • Married or in committed relationship • High avoidance of grains and legumes, but not dairy and alcohol
    • 31. Summary: And Why? • Two main reasons: 1) People who are sick, and for whom conventional medicine has failed (majority) 2) People who are seeking performance, namely physical and mental performance “A Special Kind of Person” • Self directed • Willingness to challenge authority • Access to education and resources • High motivation
    • 32. “Cultural, Physiological, Social, Oh my!” or Part II: Three Main Obstacles
    • 33. 1) Cultural Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods are woven into the fabric of our culture.
    • 34. 1) Cultural Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods are woven into the fabric of our culture. • Neolithic foods allowed for civilization: 1) Division of labor 2) Accumulation of wealth 3) Social hierarchy 4) New technologies
    • 35. Without this… Flickr.com
    • 36. …you wouldn’t have that. Wikimedia.org
    • 37. 1) Cultural Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods are woven into the fabric of our culture. • Neolithic foods allowed for civilization: 1) Division of labor 2) Accumulation of wealth 3) Social hierarchy 4) New technologies • Thus, it’s going to be hard to remove them from our daily lives.
    • 38. “Lord, give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 Wikipedia.org
    • 39. Sacrament of Communion TimesUnion.com
    • 40. Sacrament of Communion Ivarfjeld.com
    • 41. Matzo and Passover foodandwine.hu
    • 42. Rice and Asian Cultures mygourmetconnection.com
    • 43. Corn in Latin America Jackandjilltravel.com
    • 44. Can you imagine this… weddingwomen.com
    • 45. …without that? bellethemagazine.com
    • 46. Can you imagine this… Wikipedia.org
    • 47. …without that? Foodchannel.com
    • 48. Mom’s Apple Pie Feastonthecheap.com
    • 49. American Cheese!
    • 50. American Cheese!
    • 51. 2) Physiological Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – are addictive.
    • 52. 2) Physiological Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – are addictive. • They taste good.
    • 53. Wikimedia.org
    • 54. Whole Food’s Cookie Bar
    • 55. August 2013
    • 56. Google searches “paleo diet”
    • 57. “paleo diet” and “cupcake”
    • 58. 2) Physiological Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – are addictive. • They taste good. • They tap into an evolutionary need.
    • 59. Scarcity
    • 60. Overabundance evilcyber.com
    • 61. 2) Physiological Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – are addictive. • They taste good. • They tap into an evolutionary need. • The food game is “fixed” today.
    • 62. Corporations engineer: • “the ‘bliss point’ of sugary beverages” • “the ‘mouthfeel’ of fat”
    • 63. 2) Physiological Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – are addictive. • They taste good. • They tap into an evolutionary need. • The food game is “fixed” today. • Neolithic/Industrial foods = 70% of diet
    • 64. 2) Physiological Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – are addictive. • They taste good. • They tap into an evolutionary need. • The food game is “fixed” today. • Neolithic/Industrial foods = 70% of diet • Research evidence
    • 65. 3) Social (“Values”) Obstacles • Key point: Today we see a sense of entitlement, which commonly privileges transitory “fun” over true mental and physical “flourishing” (eudemonia).
    • 66. 3) Social (“Values”) Obstacles • Key point: Today we see a sense of entitlement, which commonly privileges transitory “fun” over true mental and physical “flourishing” (eudemonia). • “I deserve it.”
    • 67. 3) Social (“Values”) Obstacles • Key point: Today we see a sense of entitlement, which commonly privileges transitory “fun” over true mental and physical “flourishing” (eudemonia). • “I deserve it.” • Instant gratification.
    • 68. 3) Social (“Values”) Obstacles • Key point: Today we see a sense of entitlement, which commonly privileges transitory “fun” over true mental and physical “flourishing” (eudemonia). • “I deserve it.” • Instant gratification. • “I want to be happy!”
    • 69. July 8, 2013
    • 70. 3) Social (“Values”) Obstacles • Key point: Today we see a sense of entitlement, which commonly privileges transitory “fun” over true mental and physical “flourishing” (eudemonia). • “I deserve it.” • Instant gratification. • “I just want to be happy!” • American Creed: “Life, Liberty, Happiness”
    • 71. “Traditional forms of morality that required extensive social cooperation in relation to a hard reality defined by scarcity have largely collapsed and been replaced with this New Age therapeutic culture of well-being that does not require obedience or even faith — and certainly not feelings of guilt.” “*Personal+ well-being has become the primary goal of human life.”
    • 72. Alternative Goals (individual and society) • Social justice • Artistic creation • Reduction of suffering • Athletic performance • Production of knowledge • Sexual ecstasy • “Eudemonia”
    • 73. “Fun” as a Cross-generational Issue
    • 74. “Fun” as a Cross-generational Issue Metroatlantachamber.com
    • 75. “Fun” as a Cross-generational Issue combatnetworks.com
    • 76. “Fun” as a Cross-generational Issue durhamregionalshoptalk.com
    • 77. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism
    • 78. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com
    • 79. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com cirvue.com
    • 80. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com pixelvolt.comcirvue.com
    • 81. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com pixelvolt.comcirvue.com books.usatoday.com
    • 82. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com pixelvolt.comcirvue.com books.usatoday.com williamgarrow.com
    • 83. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com pixelvolt.comcirvue.com books.usatoday.com williamgarrow.com drugfree.org
    • 84. “The Reality Problem” • “*new technology and media] allow us to be private in public” • “profound alteration in our sense of what is truth and what is fiction” • “the reality problem is the preeminent cultural event of our day”
    • 85. Anti-intellectualism and Pseudoskepticism Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?
    • 86. Anti-intellectualism and Pseudoskepticism Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?
    • 87. Anti-intellectualism and Pseudoskepticism Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings? National Poll: 32% 14% 46% [7% No Opinion] (Gallup, May 2012)
    • 88. Vive la Revolution! • The ancestral lifestyle is nothing less than revolutionary.
    • 89. Vive la Revolution! • The ancestral lifestyle is nothing less than revolutionary. • “Agriculture – particularly grains – and the state are, and always have been, mutually-dependent and mutually-reinforcing. Disengaging from the system of industrial agriculture and branded or otherwise “value-added” food products is a fundamentally revolutionary act that erodes GDP and the tax base in turn.” --Andrew Badenoch, PaleoFX13
    • 90. Vive la Revolution! • The ancestral lifestyle is nothing less than revolutionary. • “If we were to magically convert the entire world to paleo … that would tank the economy.” --Mark Sisson Andreas Eenfeldt interview 2012
    • 91. Summary: 3 Main Obstacles 1) Cultural: Neolithic foods are woven into the fabric of our culture. 2) Physiological: Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – are addictive. 3) Social/Value: Today we see a sense of entitlement, which commonly privileges transitory “fun” over true mental and physical “flourishing” (eudemonia).
    • 92. Other Obstacles: 1) Large vested interests (agribusiness, Monsanto, beef industry, USDA, etc.) 2) Professional organizations (AMA, American Dietetic Association, etc.) 3) Relative cost and inconvenience
    • 93. “Aren’t Things Different This Time?” or Part III: Common Counterarguments
    • 94. 1) “Today we have the internet!” • “This time is different!”
    • 95. 1) “Today we have the internet!” • “This time is different!” • “With the internet , social media, and new technology we are going to change the world!”
    • 96. 1) “Today we have the internet!” • “This time is different!” • “With the internet , social media, and new technology we are going to change the world!” • My response: Education ≠ Behavior Change
    • 97. Education ≠ Behavior Change chifi.com Wikimedia.com
    • 98. Education ≠ Behavior Change time.com time.comtime.com Australia Canada Uruguay
    • 99. Education ≠ Behavior Change bloomberg.com
    • 100. 1) “Today we have the internet!” • “This time is different!” • “With the internet , social media, and new technology we are going to change the world!” • My response: Education ≠ Behavior Change • Education + Motivation + Ability + Triggers = Behavior Change
    • 101. 2) “We are close to a tipping point!” • “Recent rapid growth” • “The best information rises to the top!”
    • 102. 2) “We are close to a tipping point!” • “Recent rapid growth” • “The best information rises to the top” • My response: We are nowhere close to a tipping point. (Law of Diffusion of Innovation)
    • 103. Law of Diffusion of Innovation • Simon Sinek’s TED Talk 2009: “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”
    • 104. Law of Diffusion of Innovation
    • 105. How big is Paleo today? • Difficult question
    • 106. How big is Paleo today? • Difficult question • National telephone survey needed
    • 107. How big is Paleo today? • Difficult question • National telephone survey needed • Estimate Size: 1) Empirical data (book sales, page views, podcast downloads) 2) Ask the experts (Loren Cordain, Dallas Hartwig, Paul Jaminet, Chris Kresser, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf)
    • 108. How big is Paleo today? • 1,000,000 – 3,000,000 in the USA
    • 109. How big is Paleo today? • 1,000,000 – 3,000,000 in the USA • Population of the USA: 310,000,000
    • 110. How big is Paleo today? • 1,000,000 – 3,000,000 in the USA • Population of the USA: 310,000,000 • Paleo movement = 1% of the population
    • 111. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 1%
    • 112. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 1% 15-18%
    • 113. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 1% 15-18%
    • 114. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 14% Belief in Evolution
    • 115. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 2%
    • 116. 2) “We are close to a tipping point!” • “Recent rapid growth” • “The best information rises to the top” • My response: We are nowhere close to a tipping point. (Law of Diffusion of Innovation)
    • 117. In your estimation, how long before a majority of your country's population lives a paleo lifestyle?
    • 118. “Just the Beginning” or Conclusions
    • 119. Starting the Conversation… • Ancestral Health Symposium 2012, Boston: “Will the paleo movement go mainstream? Or will it fade away like the Physical Culture Movement did 100 years ago?” sethroberts.net
    • 120. A Paleo Trilogy • I. The Past: AHS12 “Ancestral Health in Historical Context: From Physical Culture to the Primal Life” • II. The Present: PaleoFX13 “Stereotypes and Reality: Demographics, Common Practices, and Motivating Factors of the Ancestral Health Movement Today” • III. The Future: AHS13 “The End of Paleo: Is the Ancestral Health Movement Going Mainstream? Wouldn’t Bet on It!”
    • 121. Where is paleo headed? • We can’t take growth for granted. • Identify the main obstacles. • Develop strategies to overcome them.
    • 122. Special Thanks to: • Eliza Barclay • Dr. Loren Cordain • Dallas Hartwig • Dr. Paul Jaminet • Kendall Kendrick • Chris Kresser • Katherine Morrison • Dan Pardi • Janice M. Rosa • David B. Schwartz • Heather Semelmacher • Mark Sisson • Robb Wolf!
    • 123. Contact Information: Dr. Hamilton M. Stapell Department of History SUNY New Paltz stapellh@newpaltz.edu
    • 124. Bonus Material!
    • 125. Conclusions: Connecting Ancestral Health to Physical Culture • Both are (middle class) reactions to rapid social, economic, and technological change: Industrial Revolution Digital Revolution
    • 126. Standard “Paleo” Biography “Due to a weak constitution and/or bad habits, the individual’s early years are a steady descent through levels of vitality, until semi-invalidism is approached. A shock of realization of poor health at last fires a renunciation of self- indulgence and a search for the hygienic truth. Reading and self-experimentation reveal one or a few dietary (or other physical) practices to be the required tool(s) with which to rebuild health. The well-being following his reform convinces the hygienist his program is the secret to all self and social improvement, and gives him the energy to compose the articles and books of health wisdom with which he bombards the public until his death.” --James Whorton, Crusaders for Fitness, 1982
    • 127. The “Secret Handshake” Problem “Part of the thing I like about it *Paleo] is that it’s a closed community, and that it is kind of exclusive. I dig that.” -PaleoFX13 audience comment