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National Survey Starts to Uncover "Secrets" Behind
Atkins Diet's 28 Years of Success and Popularity


(01-18-2000: NEW YORK, NY:)   – In the first statistically-valid national survey of dieters’ experiences with low-carb and low-fat diets, Roper Starch confirmed that the Atkins Diet is more effective than low-fat diet plans in enabling Americans to lose weight. In fact, over half (54%) of Atkins Diet users say that their weight loss to date has either met their goal or exceeded their expectations, compared to only 22% of low fat-diet plan users reporting the same results. The Roper Starch survey provides a current snapshot of dieters’ experiences in a nation where approximately 50% of the population has been deemed overweight by the Federal Government.

Among some of the key findings were the fact that although the great majority of Atkins Diet users (76%) and low-fat diet users (82%) say they still need to lose weight, fewer Atkins users still weigh in as borderline obese or obese (47% versus 58%), registering a significantly greater rate of success.

Furthermore, more Atkins Diet users than low-fat users are now on a formal weight maintenance program (15% versus 4%). According to Staats M. Abrams, senior vice president of Roper Starch, "The number of Atkins Diet users on a maintenance program should not be considered low, since many of them have been on their diet for a relatively short period of time (44% for less than six months versus 27% of low-fat diet plan users). The survey only included dieters who are or have been on a formal weight loss program sometime over the past year, and did not include Americans who have been on either a low-carb or low-fat program as an ongoing lifestyle for more than the past two years."

The key reason for the greater success rate of the Atkins Diet over low-fat diets may simply be that compared to low-fat diet plan users, Atkins Diet users are significantly more satisfied with their plan. Less than a third (31%) of low-fat dieters rated their diets highly favorable compared to almost half (49%) of Atkins Diet users.

In this first-ever poll of American dieters, the Atkins Diet plan clearly appears to offer several compelling advantages over low-fat diet plans. These include enabling users to lose weight easier, minimizing hunger side effects, reducing cravings for cheat foods, enabling users to maintain constant energy levels and to get a good night’s rest. Dramatically, over half (52%) of respondents rate the Atkins Diet favorably on eliminating hunger pangs versus a mere 21% for low-fat diets.

About half of the Atkins Diet users rated their diet favorably on maintaining constant energy levels versus 31% for low-fat diets. Forty-four percent rate the Atkins Diet favorably on controlling food cravings versus 21% for low-fat diets. Sixty percent rate the Atkins Diet favorably for helping them get a good night’s rest versus less than half (46%) for low-fat diets.

Colette Heimowitz, M.Sc., Director of Nutrition for the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine, offers up an explanation: "What the Atkins Diet does is recondition the body to burn fat efficiently, it also tames any hyperinsulism that may have been a contributing factor to obesity and it helps boost the metabolism.

" Foods on the Atkins Diet create more satiety, not a need for excessive calories; and the Diet provides more satisfying and good-tasting food. Once dieters learn how they feel on a low-carb diet regarding their energy level, mental acuity and mood, they never want to go back to excessive carbohydrate eating. They’re not hungry, they sleep better and, if they’re following the program properly, they have noticeably improved and consistent energy levels throughout the day."

As for improved sleep patterns: "There may be several reasons for that," continues Heimowitz. "When we eat excessive carbohydrates, we produce too much insulin, which drops our blood sugar too low and triggers the cortisol response. Cortisol is the stress hormone which causes us to retain water and feel anxious. That response can wake us up in the middle of night and interfere with a good night’s sleep. Additionally, on a low-carb, animal protein program, the amino acids in the protein choices (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, etc.) increase dopamine receptors in the brain, which is the ‘feel-good’ hormone that we crave and need for proper sleep."

Surprisingly, the overwhelmingly positive experience that most dieters have on the Atkins Diet contrasts dramatically with the fact that most of these people, besieged by mixed reviews in the press and protests from the medical and nutrition establishment, worry that their diet is not necessarily healthful and nutritious. On the other hand, low-fat dieters, despite their low success rate and high level of dissatisfaction with this approach, believe that although low-fat diets are not necessarily working or pleasant to be on, such diets are healthful and nutritious.

Not at all insensitive to these concerns and misunderstandings, the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine is currently funding a number of research projects on the Diet’s efficacy and long-term safety at a number of major universities around the country.

This nationally-projected survey is based on online interviews with a sample of 307 American adults currently on a formal diet plan: 151 of the interviews were completed with adults using the Atkins Diet and 156 of the interviews were completed with adults following a low-fat plan. The purpose of the study is to ascertain the extent to which formal diet plans are meeting the needs of overweight American adults.