The corporate world often involves a barrage of back-to-back meetings, social networking and interstate and overseas travel. With such a varied schedule, routine is often not possible, and therefore the ability to maintain a regular exercise regime and diet plan can be challenging.
Sourcing healthy meals on the road can be difficult, particularly when you’re expected to ‘wine and dine’ clients. A typical Western diet, high in saturated fat and often accompanied by alcohol, is known to contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, but could a ‘business diet’ be even worse?
Researchers in recently analysed how different dietary patterns are associated with early stage atherosclerosis (where plaque builds up in the arteries causing heart attacks and strokes). To do this, they reviewed the diets of more than 4000 adults between the ages of 40 and 54 and looked at how they related to different measures of heart disease.
40% of people in the study were found to be following a Mediterranean style diet and another 41% were eating a more Western diet, high in red and processed meats, butter, cheese and refined grains.
A different pattern of eating was observed in the remaining 19% of people. Termed the ‘social business eating pattern’ by researchers, this diet was high in red meat, takeaway foods, alcohol, and sugary soft drinks, and involved numerous occasions of dining out.
The results showed that people following the social business eating pattern had a considerably worse heart risk profile compared to those following other diets. This increased risk remained after adjustments were made for other potential heart risk factors including age, levels of physical activity, smoking status and other lifestyle factors. The study participants were middle to high income office workers, not low income, which may limit applicability to the broader population.
Clearly more focus is needed on finding viable healthy diet and exercise solutions for people in the business world who are often on the road. A business deal doesn’t require alcohol, steak and indulgent dessert to be successful so it may be time to think about healthier and more sustainable ways to look after yourself and select healthier options if you’re on the road.
Reference: Peñalva JL et al. Association between a social-business eating pattern and early asymptomatic atherosclerosis. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2016;68:805-814.