Low-carb lifestyle shows staying power

Filed under: Study — Tags: — @ August 4, 2004

According to two new studies, low-carb dieting shows no signs of disappearing. Opinion Dynamics Corporation (ODC), a market research firm that specializes in the food service industry, reports that the number of Americans on a low-carb diet has remained stable at 11% of the U.S. adult population (24 million adults).

While the number of current low-carb dieters has remained stable, however, the percentage of people who say they are merely making an effort to restrict their carbs has dropped substantially in the past few months, according to the ODC study. This group, called low-carb lifestyle consumers, has decreased from 32% in April to 29% in the current study.

According to new consumer research conducted in June 2004 by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), based on a survey of 1,322 U.S. households, more than one in five (21%) Americans are currently attempting to maintain or lose weight by managing their carbohydrate intake. NMI calls these consumers low-carb weight managers (LCWMs).

The June NMI survey indicated that a majority of LCWMs actively reduce sugar (65%), while 62% actively reduce starch-based foods. In addition, almost half of LCWMs use sugar substitutes (48%), with 47% increasing their protein intake. One-third of LCWMs say they use low carb packaged foods and beverages (brand name products specifically designed with lower carb content). And almost one in five LCWMs follow a specific, formal low carb diet, such as Atkins, South Beach or other low carb program.

“While many Americans have adopted low carb behavior patterns, many LCWMs say they are actually following what NMI calls a “modified” version of a low carb diet program. In fact NMI would classify more than one-third of LCWMs (37%) as ‘modifiers,’ adapting Atkins or other programs to their own lifestyle,” Steve French, NMI’s Managing Partner, said. “Low carb dieting seems to be somewhat of a do-it-yourself affair,” he added. “This simplicity and adaptation flexibility will continue to drive the low carb marketplace for many years to come.”


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