It’s been a while since the orange juice industry and potato industry decided to go after the low-carb diet movement because of its threat to their business. I haven’t heard much since, except for some in these industries making a decision that instead of or in addition to bad-mouthing low-carb, or even suing it proponents; they needed to adopt a fall-back plan of some version of developing a version of their product that might appeal to some low-carb dieters.
Just a few minutes ago I learned of an organization “dedicated to promoting the health benefits of fruits and vegetables with regard to weight management and disease prevention” which has conducted a poll about low-carb dieting. Their name, Dole Nutritional Institute, gave away who they were – Dole, the huge conglomerate that sells canned and fresh fruits and veggies, as well as other products that use fruits or veggies as at least one of their ingredients – sugar probably being a bigger share on some of these!
So, you can’t blame me for being just a tad suspicious that this “Doll Poll” as they call it, might be a little, shall we say… biased? And reading through their press release, it amazes me how blatant this bias is. Let’s go through just a few things that should make it clear to most people who can think for themselves that Doll is out only to vilify low carb because it is a threat to their bottom line.
“The brand new "Dole Poll" found that half of all Americans reported that no amount of weight loss from a low-carb diet would be worth the potential negative health impact. According to a recent national poll of 801 adults, the possible side effects of a low-carbohydrate diet such as high cholesterol, constipation, kidney stones, and increased risk of some cancers, "tip the scales" against following such a diet for a full 50% of Americans. In contrast, more than one-third (36%) say they are willing to take the chance to realize some weight loss, with 4% reporting any amount of pounds shed would be "worth it."
This is the definition of “leading question” and has been used by politicos to plant a seed in people’s mind without actually coming out and accusing an opponent of the thing. “Would you vote for so and so if it turned out he embezzled money and fathered an illegitimate child”? The point is that none of these so called side affects have ever been proven to be associated with low-carb dieting. Please, Doll, anyone, name one study that showed an increased incidence of any of these things among actual low-carb dieters. Maybe some are logical extractions based on faulty assumptions, I grant you that, but faulty assumptions don’t lead to valid conclusions!
“We've turned a corner in public awareness," observed Jennifer Grossman, Director of the Dole Nutrition Institute. "The more people learn about low- carb health risks, the less appetite they have for such dangerous fad diets." Coming on the heels of The Lancet medical journal's survey suggesting such side effects as headaches, fatigue and foul breath are more frequently reported by low-carb dieters than those on conventional regimens, the Dole Poll findings are more evidence that the Atkins bubble has burst.”
Hmmm, I see something about “headaches, fatigue, and foul breath” but where are all the other supposed side effects? The side effects that the Lancet describes have been criticized because they are widely known to anyone familiar with such diets as the common symptoms of carbohydrate “withdrawal” during the first two weeks of the diet, after which they subside and in fact a great increase in energy is often noted.
"This backlash is already affecting the grocery industry, with less than half the numbers of low-carb products introduced in 2004 than in 2003, and sales figures showing that many of these products are discounted or off the shelves weeks after introduction. Some industry experts even project that two-thirds of the products introduced this year will be off the shelves by 2006.
We’ve been hearing about the supposed death of low-carb for months now. Part of this is based off the argument that some low-carb products aren’t selling at the incredible rates they were during the first four or five months of this year. Let’s see, could it be that this “fad” is over, or could it be that only those who adopted the diet as the 2004 diet of the year will go back to their old ways? People who aren’t necessarily serious about finding what will work for them and sticking with it, but rather more interested in doing something that’s trendy, and once it’s not new it gets tossed out. Sure, there are a lot of bandwagon jumpers, but that doesn’t mean that everyone’s stopped low-carbing. Aside from this, it ignores the fact that the drop in sales for these products may have absolutely nothing to do with overall numbers of people following low-carb diets. All it says is that fewer people are buying these products! But despite what the critics might try to convince you of, you can, and really you SHOULD do low-carb without any of these. Low-carb can be accomplished with simple whole foods, such as meat, fish, veggies, fruit, nuts, and dairy. In fact, I would argue that it’s even easier to avoid processed foods with a low-carb plan than low-fat, because all dairy and much meat is naturally not low-fat, but needs to have that fat “processed out of it” and in its place, at least as far as dairy is concerned, goes other fillers, particularly sugar, in order to hide the lack of taste that the fat used to provide.
Other questions and results included:
Question: As you may be aware, some Americans are trying to lose weight by eating fewer carbohydrates. This is often referred to as the "Atkins" diet. Which of the following aspects of a low-carbohydrate diet do you find most appealing?
27% SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT LOSS
18% FACT THAT YOU CAN EAT BIG PORTIONS OF MEAT, CHEESE, AND CREAM AND
STILL LOSE WEIGHT
13% SIMPLICITY OF THE DIET/EASY TO FOLLOW
2% THE POPULARITY OF THE PROGRAM/OTHER PEOPLE DOING IT
25% DEPENDS/UNSURE/DON'T KNOW (VOLUNTEERED)
7% TOTAL OTHER (VOLUNTEERED)
7% REFUSED (VOLUNTEERED)
Wow, Dole was brave enough to actually publish one of their questions. Let’s see, where is the answer “It makes me feel good” or “It improves my health”? Of course, they couldn’t have asked that because that might have actually created results inconsistent with what they aiming for. Instead, they give the option that you can eat “big portions of meat, cheese, and cream” – you know the very stereotypical view that critics have of these diets that they only consist of fatty meats and cheese. Also we have “popularity” as a factor, which is not a positive at all. Who is going to admit to doing something only because it’s popular? Obviously not many!
Question: Which of the following aspects of a low-carbohydrate diet do you find to be least appealing?
39% SIDE EFFECTS LIKE KIDNEY STONES, HIGH CHOLESTEROL, AND INCREASED RISK OF HEART DISEASE
17% DIFFICULTY TO KEEP WEIGHT OFF OVER THE LONG TERM
13% BOREDOM WITH THE SAME ROUTINE IN THE FOODS EATEN
8% SIDE EFFECTS LIKE CONSTIPATION, BAD BREATH OR DEPRESSED MOOD
15% DEPENDS/UNSURE/DON'T KNOW (VOLUNTEERED)
3% TOTAL OTHER (VOLUNTEERED)
4% REFUSED (VOLUNTEERED)
Here we go again! The question is framed as if these “aspects of a low-carbohydrate diet” are proven fact. Please, show me any scientific study that shows an increased risk of heart disease with a low-carb diet. This is something that nutritionists and the medical community have accused Atkins of for over 30 years, so you would think by now they would have proof, right? Cholesterol is often decreased with a low-carb plan as well.
Notably, a full 25% of those surveyed said that they were "unsure," "lacked information," or simply "did not know enough" to respond to this question and choose among the four aspects. This suggests the limited popularity of low-carb diets, which have achieved "mainstream" status (available and known to a majority of Americans) but which have failed to realize a critical "mass" in its subscribership (actually followed by a majority of Americans).
Or…. It could just mean that you didn’t give these people an adequate answer which they would have picked, since you loaded it all to make the diet look bad. How they extrapolate this data to determine that there is no “critical mass” in low-carb diet popularity is really unfathomable.
That’s the problem with such a poll. When you have an actual agenda, it no longer is a poll, but a political or marketing propaganda mechanism. And wouldn’t you know it, the company that conducted the poll, "the polling company", is headed by a conservative talking head (the company also does political consulting), someone used to trying to present a specific viewpoint, not objective truth.
posted Wednesday, 29 September 2004
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