Survey shows consumers rejecting low-carb consumption

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Related tags: Nutrition, Obesity, Low-carbohydrate diet

While supporters of the Atkins plan would have us believe the diet
is more popular than ever, there are signs of a growing backlash
against low-carb diet plans. A new survey reveals that despite the
growing number of product offerings available on the market, 30 per
cent of consumers are determined to buck the trend and reject a
low-carb eating plan.

The results contradict previous findings which suggest the US is currently in the midst of a low-carb craze. Reports have suggested approximately 59 million Americans are following a low-carb eating plan such as the Atkins diet.

This latest study, commissioned by the Marketing Technology Solutions (MTS)​, tracked the eating patterns of 17,000 adults and found approximately one third of subjects chose to follow a balanced diet.

Between January and February 2004, MTS fielded its first survey on low-carb diets. Their aim was to study this market niche that has doubled in size during 2003 to $1.4 billion. While 37 per cent of the sample was on a diet, just under half of the total population surveyed did not buy low-carb products suggesting alternative methods of dieting were being accepted and followed.

As regards to the Atkins diet, approximately 40 per cent of the respondents were not fans. It seems that watching carbohydrate consumption is not the only food concern among American consumers.

The report also claimed that those who purchased low-carb food and beverages, 90 per cent increased consumption of low-carb foods in the last three months.

However, out of these subjects, only 9 per cent believed they were fit and at a proper weight, indicating the American public are conscious the low-carb method might be the best way to lose weight but not necessarily the healthiest.

Indeed, proportionally more of these consumers used medications to lower their cholesterol levels rather than through a sensible eating plan.

Ram Rao, Vice President of Analytics for MTS said: "One concern is that low-carb products are purchased by those who described themselves as fit and at the proper weight."

"Advertising themes geared at 'lose the weight' might alienate those who could relate to a message of 'stay fit."

"Strategic use of the branding message, media selection and celebrity endorsements is critical to success."

The survey comes immediately after another report commissioned by the NPD group whose findings claim that at any one time only 4 per cent of the American population was on a low-carb/high-protein diet. That translates to about 10 million Americans - considerably less than originally estimated.

The report concluded the majority of people who claimed to be on a low-carb diet were between the ages of 35-64 - the largest sample group trying to cut carbs.

The two reports are sure to shed some light on the future of this low-carb phenomenon and how big an effect it will have on certain businesses and products in the food industry, whether a positive or negative impact.

According to market analysts ACNielsen, figures showing the number of people who have tried a low-carb diet but jacked in the regime make for compelling reading.

Todd Hale, senior vice president of ACNielsen was quoted as saying:" The jury is still out as to whether the low-carb diet has staying power."

Whether the low-carb craze is here to stay, the country's biggest food manufacturers have capitalised on the opportunities to slot a low-carb line onto the supermarket shelf, all targeted towards those on the diet.

The latest are low-carb food specialists Dixie USA, who have introduced a sprinkle-on starch neutralizer designed to reduce calories in carb-rich foods. Made from an extract of the white bean. Dixie's product, called CarbCounters, can be sprinkled right on food to support low-carb diets.

Food industry analyst Phil Lempert said: "When the low-carb craze settles down a bit, I believe we'll see people taking a more informed and balanced approach to their eating."

"The wise manufacturers will take the lead in making sure their foods are safe and healthy."

Related topics: Ingredients

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