Corporate India’s, Eating Habits

In April 2011, a group of Doctors published what they believe should be the National dietary guidelines, for urban Indians. The earlier dietary guidelines released a decade back, in 1998, by the National Institute of Nutrition catered largely to the rural community. The urban dietary guidelines were created to combat the changed sedentary urban lifestyle, of convenience fast foods frequent snacking, a high fat diet, carbonated drinks, increased calories & the resultant outcomes of obesity in children & diabetes, hypertension & cardiovascular disease in adults.

The Urban Diet guideline recommends

-          Carbohydrate intake at 50-60 % of total energy with an emphasis on whole grain cereals for roughage &20-40 gms/day of fibre from leafy vegetables & fresh fruit.

-          Protein intake at 10-15 %, from Soya bean, gram, dhals& pulses (for vegetarians) & from poultry & sea food (for non vegetarians) with red meats being a strict No-No.

-          Fat & Oil intake at less than 10 % & coming from not less than 2 vegetable sources, ie groundnut oil, olive oil, mustard oil, rice bran oil, gingelly oil etc (no butter, no ghee or trans fats)

-          Sugar at 10 % from Jaggery, honey etc (with table sugar to be avoided)& salt at no more than 5 gms / day preferably idiosed.

-          Total calorie intake per day to be in the region of 1200 – 1500 calories for females & 1500-1800 calories per day for male, with a compulsory, half to one hour component of moderate Physical Exercises, 3-6 days / week

AS compared to these guidelines, ongoing research by CII & the Apollo Hospitals of over 300,000 corporate executives from more than 580 of the country’s leading corporate organizations from over 32 cities substantiates that the eating habits of the corporate Indian executive is as follows:-

-          52.00 % have inadequate nutritional knowledge being totally unaware of healthy eating guidelines.

-          48.00 % have inadequate complex carbohydrate intake, preferring to have milled rice& white bread in preference to whole grain products

-          58.00 % have insufficient vitamins & micronutrients due to daily non consumption of uncooked vegetable salads & fresh fruit.

-          76.00 % are non vegetarian with the majority of 56.00 % eating, in addition, red meats (mutton) daily

-          54.00 %have a high fat diet of butter, ghee, cheese, whole cream products, fried foods (parathas, puries) almost daily

-          49.00 % have a sweet tooth, eating pastries, ice creams, desserts mithai, milk shakes at least once a day

-          36.00 % snack frequently on salted foods including, French fries, salted peanuts, mixture, potato chips, salted biscuits, bhajeasetc

-          35.00 % frequently replace a daily meal with a fast food alternative of pizzas, hamburgers, noodles, kebabs,paratha rolls & other commercially available foods, ice creams caters, milk shakes etc

-          32.00 % families replacethe evening meal more than 2 to 3 days a week, by eating out at hotels, restaurants, malls, food courts, roadside stalls etc

-          55.00 % treat the night meal as the meal of choice, making it the heaviest meal of the day, whereas conventional knowledge requires that the night meal should be the lightest to ensure that it is not storage in the body as excess fat


As a consequence of these eating habits

-          32.00 % of executives suffer from digestive disorders including flatulence, acidity, irritable bowel & ulcers

-          32.52 % of executives are overweight meaning that they have over time exceeded their daily calorie intake & lived a sedentary life.

-          42.00 % are over fat with a body fat ratio of in excess of the acceptable 30 % for humans.

-          37.59 % are sedentary meaning that not only do they spend the entire day sitting in front of the computer, they also spend the evenings sitting in front of the TV

-          49.09 % of employees are physically unfit with poor cardiovascular endurance, low muscular strength & limited joint mobility

-          48.17 % have a bad lifestyle& are either overweight, sedentary, highly stressed or smoke

-          50.52 % are victims of high Stress. This is largely due to a time pressured routine & an over competitive personality

-          34.00 % frequently have alcohol, ie more than 2 to 3 drinks several times a week, in pubs & parties

-          13.00 %Smoke on a daily basis & each year these numbers are increasing with more & more female executives picking up this habit

-          21.46 % are consequently categorized as high Cardiac risk due to already having had a heart attack, or currently having high blood pressure, diabetes, or high blood cholesterol.

-          14.84 % Corporate employees have already had a cardiac ailment& undergone a bypass or angioplasty & are currently on cardiac medication

-          19.06 % of employees have High Blood Pressure in excess of 135/85 & are currently on medication

-          15.46 % are currently diabetic with fasting blood sugar in excess of 110, & are currently on medication

-          17.43 % have High Cholesterol with over 30.00 % having high triglycerides largely due to a diet of simple carbohydrates ie rice, bread or alcohol

Certainly the responsibility of maintaining good health is primarily with each individual. However due to the burgeoning cost of illness &hospitalization,& due the consequent loss of productivity, employees as well as the Govt. will benefit with improved health. However this perception does not seem to have galvanized Corporate India into remedial action.

-          79.00 % of organizations, do not actually encourage & sponsor their employees to undergo an annual medical check up

-          87.00 % of organizations, do not have a policy for corporate health, nor do they encourage Health & Wellness talks

-          85.00 % of organizations, either do not have a Canteen, or in case they do, they have no emphasis on healthy foods in their canteens

-          92.00 % of organizations, neither have a Gym, nor do they make available gym memberships, nor encourage sports & fitness amongst their employees.

However, there is a silver lining in the dark cloud of corporate wellness & the ongoing CII-Apollo Hospitals, Corporate Wellness awards is recognizing & awarding each year, organizations like L & T, HCL, HSBC, GE, TajHotels, Agrotech foods, Tata Steel etc. who have firmly established corporate wellness as part of their corporate responsibility.


Prof. Adrian Kennedy