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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

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

  1. 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. 2. Google searches “paleo diet” 2013 2010
  3. 3. New York Times Best sellers 2011 2012
  4. 4. For Idiots and Dummies… 2013 2013
  5. 5. PPN
  6. 6. Paleo Diet on The Dr. Oz Show April 22, 2013
  7. 7. How long have you been living a paleo lifestyle? Ancestral Health Online Survey March 2013 (n = 4691)
  8. 8. How long have you been living a paleo lifestyle? 85% within the past three years 85%
  9. 9. The Future?
  10. 10. • Thesis: The paleo movement will grow modestly, but will not go mainstream.
  11. 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. 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. 13. “A Special Kind of Person” or Part I: Who goes paleo? And why?
  14. 14. Who goes paleo? And Why? • Two main reasons: 1) People who are sick, and for whom conventional medicine has failed (majority)
  15. 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. 16. What was your primary reason for going paleo?
  17. 17. What was your primary reason for going paleo? “Weight loss” (31%) + “Recovery from illness” (21%) + “Other” (4%) = 56% 4%
  18. 18. What was your primary reason for going paleo? 11%
  19. 19. What was your primary reason for going paleo?
  20. 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. 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. 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. 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. 24. What is your combined annual household income? 41% earn $100,000 or more National average: 15.9% (Census Bureau, Feb. 2012) 41%
  25. 25. What is your race? National average: 72% white and shrinking (U.S. Census, 2010)
  26. 26. What is your gender?
  27. 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. 28. Please indicate your current family structure. 68% in a committed relationship. 68%
  29. 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. 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. 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. 32. “Cultural, Physiological, Social, Oh my!” or Part II: Three Main Obstacles
  33. 33. 1) Cultural Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods are woven into the fabric of our culture.
  34. 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. 35. Without this… Flickr.com
  36. 36. …you wouldn’t have that. Wikimedia.org
  37. 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. 38. “Lord, give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 Wikipedia.org
  39. 39. Sacrament of Communion TimesUnion.com
  40. 40. Sacrament of Communion Ivarfjeld.com
  41. 41. Matzo and Passover foodandwine.hu
  42. 42. Rice and Asian Cultures mygourmetconnection.com
  43. 43. Corn in Latin America Jackandjilltravel.com
  44. 44. Can you imagine this… weddingwomen.com
  45. 45. …without that? bellethemagazine.com
  46. 46. Can you imagine this… Wikipedia.org
  47. 47. …without that? Foodchannel.com
  48. 48. Mom’s Apple Pie Feastonthecheap.com
  49. 49. American Cheese!
  50. 50. American Cheese!
  51. 51. 2) Physiological Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – are addictive.
  52. 52. 2) Physiological Obstacles • Key point: Neolithic foods – and simple carbohydrates in particular – are addictive. • They taste good.
  53. 53. Wikimedia.org
  54. 54. Whole Food’s Cookie Bar
  55. 55. August 2013
  56. 56. Google searches “paleo diet”
  57. 57. “paleo diet” and “cupcake”
  58. 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. 59. Scarcity
  60. 60. Overabundance evilcyber.com
  61. 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. 62. Corporations engineer: • “the ‘bliss point’ of sugary beverages” • “the ‘mouthfeel’ of fat”
  63. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 69. July 8, 2013
  70. 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. 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. 72. Alternative Goals (individual and society) • Social justice • Artistic creation • Reduction of suffering • Athletic performance • Production of knowledge • Sexual ecstasy • “Eudemonia”
  73. 73. “Fun” as a Cross-generational Issue
  74. 74. “Fun” as a Cross-generational Issue Metroatlantachamber.com
  75. 75. “Fun” as a Cross-generational Issue combatnetworks.com
  76. 76. “Fun” as a Cross-generational Issue durhamregionalshoptalk.com
  77. 77. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism
  78. 78. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com
  79. 79. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com cirvue.com
  80. 80. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com pixelvolt.comcirvue.com
  81. 81. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com pixelvolt.comcirvue.com books.usatoday.com
  82. 82. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com pixelvolt.comcirvue.com books.usatoday.com williamgarrow.com
  83. 83. The Varieties of Fun and Escapism frontroomcinema.com pixelvolt.comcirvue.com books.usatoday.com williamgarrow.com drugfree.org
  84. 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. 85. Anti-intellectualism and Pseudoskepticism Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?
  86. 86. Anti-intellectualism and Pseudoskepticism Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?
  87. 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. 88. Vive la Revolution! • The ancestral lifestyle is nothing less than revolutionary.
  89. 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. 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. 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. 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. 93. “Aren’t Things Different This Time?” or Part III: Common Counterarguments
  94. 94. 1) “Today we have the internet!” • “This time is different!”
  95. 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. 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. 97. Education ≠ Behavior Change chifi.com Wikimedia.com
  98. 98. Education ≠ Behavior Change time.com time.comtime.com Australia Canada Uruguay
  99. 99. Education ≠ Behavior Change bloomberg.com
  100. 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. 101. 2) “We are close to a tipping point!” • “Recent rapid growth” • “The best information rises to the top!”
  102. 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. 103. Law of Diffusion of Innovation • Simon Sinek’s TED Talk 2009: “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”
  104. 104. Law of Diffusion of Innovation
  105. 105. How big is Paleo today? • Difficult question
  106. 106. How big is Paleo today? • Difficult question • National telephone survey needed
  107. 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. 108. How big is Paleo today? • 1,000,000 – 3,000,000 in the USA
  109. 109. How big is Paleo today? • 1,000,000 – 3,000,000 in the USA • Population of the USA: 310,000,000
  110. 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. 111. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 1%
  112. 112. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 1% 15-18%
  113. 113. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 1% 15-18%
  114. 114. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 14% Belief in Evolution
  115. 115. Law of Diffusion of Innovation 2%
  116. 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. 117. In your estimation, how long before a majority of your country's population lives a paleo lifestyle?
  118. 118. “Just the Beginning” or Conclusions
  119. 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. 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. 121. Where is paleo headed? • We can’t take growth for granted. • Identify the main obstacles. • Develop strategies to overcome them.
  122. 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. 123. Contact Information: Dr. Hamilton M. Stapell Department of History SUNY New Paltz stapellh@newpaltz.edu
  124. 124. Bonus Material!
  125. 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. 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. 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

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