How can food be used as a business productivity tool?

When plant-based diets are discussed they are generally guided by personal consumption and our emotional attachment to food…

The health benefits of it are being touted in mainstream media regularly as more significant research and evidence emerge for its positive effects in the short and long term concerning chronic illness and overall health. However, the benefits to our business and economic ecosystems are seldom discussed.

According to Gallup polls, the cost of lost productivity due to obesity and other chronic health conditions results in about $153 billion in the US and an estimated $27 billion in the UK annually. If 10% of the total population commits to high adherence to a soy-containing plant-forward diet, societal cost savings in the United Kingdom are estimated at $14 billion, however, more research is needed to verify how much societal cost savings can be achieved.

Obesity rates are increasing in Bahrain steadily which puts our population at higher risk of non-communicable diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes (which are also the 2 leading causes of death in Bahrain), and cancer. As of 2018, obesity in Bahrain is at 40% for adults. It’s clear we have a health epidemic in our midst. 

While white-collar jobs make up an estimated 38% of Bahrain’s workforce, yet, are found in the most productive sectors of the economy, such as financial corporations, which is Bahrain’s second most productive sector. We have a lot to gain from cutting health-associated productivity losses. 

Businesses love an easy, cheap, low-tech, and scalable solution. A 4-month study conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found just that in plant-based diets. Enlisted GEICO employees as research subjects at five locations, who ate a guided plant-based diet at and outside of work, managed to not only shed significant amounts of weight; but also reported increases in productivity. Compared to employees at other GEICO locations, they found out that eating plant-based reduced anxiety, depression, fatigue, as well as improve their overall health.

While wellness programs are usually offered at executive levels of management, extending it to all employees with the inclusion of a plant-based diet will have more amplified returns on investment to all stakeholders of the business.

Shivani is an economist, marketer and an expert on plant based business and living. She is the founder of Plant Based Bahrain & New Normal Consultancy.