Atkins Survey Finds Americans Are Confused About Carbohydrates

Majority of Those Surveyed Don't Monitor Their Own Diet

Mindless eating and carb confusion continue to plague American waistlines.  Atkins Nutritionals Inc, a leader in the weight-management category, today announced findings from the Atkins Carb Index Survey.  The study uncovered that Americans typically do not monitor what is on their plates, with close to six in ten confessing they dont know how many carbohydrates they eat on a daily basis.  Additionally, many are not aware of the difference between healthy carbs and less healthy carb food choices.

"The Atkins Carb Index reinforces that Americans are increasingly consuming carbohydrates without a clear understanding of how much is right for their bodies and which carbs are healthiest," said Colette Heimowitz, vice president of nutrition and education for Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. "We know people are confused about carbs and Atkins is committed to helping dieters by providing the tools, education and success metrics to meet these challenges head-on and teaching people how to reach their ideal weight and their own personal carb balance."

Most Americans say they understand the outcome of consuming too many carbs.  Eighty-five percent know overconsumption can lead to weight gain and 76 percent are aware that consuming too many carbs can put a person at risk for Type 2 diabetes.  Seventy-five percent are aware that eating carbs can cause spikes in blood sugar causing hunger and cravings.  Further, 71 percent know that the overconsumption of carbs for an extended period of time can shorten a person's lifespan.  However, knowing the risks of consuming too many carbs is only one small part of a healthy diet.  Practicing a balanced diet is even more important.  Still, among those surveyed, carb confusion remains:

  • More than half (54 percent) said they eat more carbs than they think they should
  • More than half (57 percent) admit they usually never give much thought to how many carbs they eat on a daily basis
  • More men (63 percent) than women (52 percent) who eat carbs don't monitor the amount of carbohydrates they eat every day
  • More than half (56 percent) report typically feeling lethargic or tired after eating a large carbohydrate focused meal
  • Nearly half (46 percent) wish they had more information about carbohydrate choices

Carb Confusion 
American carb-eaters are in the dark when it comes to understanding how to incorporate carbs into their diets, including how many to consume and which carbs are healthiest.

  • Nearly nine in 10 (87 percent) admit they crave bread, pasta and rice at least once a week and, on average, experience these cravings 11 times a week
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of Americans yearn for meals high in carbohydrates – ranking as high as cravings for sugary foods like candy and soda (49 percent)
  • A surprising 42 percent of carb eaters willing to weigh in (and 50 percent of women) think it would be harder to live without their favorite carb than sex for an entire year
  • While most correctly recognize that vegetables (89 percent) and whole grains (88 percent) are considered "healthy" carbohydrates, more than half (51 percent) consider fruit juices/drinks and jams/jellies (23 percent) to be good carbs, when they are typically high in added sugar

"There are healthy and smart ways to incorporate carbohydrates into one's diet including consuming carbs with proteins such as poultry, fish and combining them with healthy fats such as olive oil or avocado to slow the release of sugars in your body.  Also, eat carbs that are high in fiber to slow the release of sugars, such as vegetables, berries, seeds and nuts," said Heimowitz.  "Another tip is to check ingredients for hidden carbs, such as added sugars.  By gradually introducing healthy carbs, Atkins dieters learn to manage their intake to find their own perfect carb balance.  Consumers can visit to learn more." 

According to a study by the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, carb consumption and the rate of overweight adults have been rising steadily since 1977.  A diet high in simple carbohydrates puts stress on the body causing spikes and drops in blood sugar leading to hunger and cravings.  Over time, the body can lose its ability to metabolize these carbs and becomes resistant to the rush of insulin resulting in metabolic syndrome, also known as carb intolerance.  It is estimated that 34 million Americans have metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterized by central obesity, disturbed glucose, insulin metabolism, and in some cases hypertension.  MetS has also been linked to increased risks of Type 2 diabetes which affects an estimated 23 million people today.  A study published in Nutrition & Metabolism found that carbohydrate restriction improved all of the features of metabolic syndrome.