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Survey: Eating Out Is Up, Atkins Diet Is Down

Other U.S. Food Trends Include Limiting Intake of Trans Fats
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 18, 2005 -- America's dining table looks a bit different than a year ago, a new food survey shows.

Findings from the online survey of more than 5,200 U.S. adults include:

  • A drop in the percentage of people on the Atkins diet.
  • An increase in the frequency of breakfasts and dinners bought away from home.
  • A slight rise in the number of people who noted working out twice a week.
  • More people limiting trans fats than carbohydrates or artificial sweeteners.

The survey was done by Christopher Malone and Jenifer Bland-Campbell, RD. Both work at the food services company Aramark. Malone is senior vice president of marketing; Bland-Campbell is senior director of nutrition program development.

The results were presented in Vancouver, Canada, at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity's annual scientific meeting.

Trendy Data

The survey covered away-from-home eating habits plus nutritional preferences and perceptions.

The most common nutrition-focused behaviors noted by participants were watching weight and limiting fat intake.

That's not new. But slightly fewer people said they were making strong attempts in those areas than last year (29% in 2005 and 33% in 2004).

The percentage of people who reported being on the Atkins Diet dropped from 13% to 8% in the past year.

In this year's survey, a bigger percentage of people noted "strongly limiting" their intake of trans fatty acids (21%) than were limiting carbohydrates or artificial sweeteners (18% for each). Trans fats are manufactured fats.

Also, 52% of participants said they exercise twice a week. That's up from 48% in 2004, the survey shows.

Dining Styles

The six "dining styles" noted in last year's survey are still going on, write the researchers. Those six dining styles are:

  • "Health-focused" women who exercise frequently and favor nutritious foods.

  • "Nutritionally curious" women who aren't on a diet but express strong interest in healthier choices if they were easier and more convenient to find.

  • "Menu-indifferent" men who don't put much care into what they eat, rarely order healthy items, and don't exercise regularly.

  • "Upscale carb counters" who have higher incomes, are actively watching their weight, and are heavy users of low-carb diets. These are usually about half women and half men.

  • "Indulgent supersize guys" who eat indulgently at every meal, don't exercise, eat fried foods, and frequently supersize value meals.

  • "Downscale health riskers" who are motivated by convenience, tend to have lower incomes and weight problems, and are dealing with specific health risks like diabetes or heart disease.

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