PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. -- Despite the popularity of low-carb diets, Americans are still consuming more carbohydrates than such diets recommend, according to a study of food consumption by the NPD Group here.
The study tracked the eating patterns of 11,000 adults and found that only a small fraction of them -- around 500 overall -- were meeting the recommended intake of low-carb diets. Further, only 25% who said they were on a low-carb diet were significantly cutting their carbs, the study showed.
Men and women who said they were reducing carbs consumed an average of 128 and 109 grams of refined carbs a day, respectively. That is significantly higher than the 20 to 50 grams per day that some low-carb diets recommend for weight loss.
The average carb intake per day was 210 grams, the study showed.
"[The study] could show retailers what foods and beverages are affected either positively or negatively if the low-carb trend continues," Anne Mixen, account manger for NPD and the author of the report, told SN. Mixen declined to comment on the specific higher-carbohydrate foods that dieters continue to eat.
"There were some surprises," she said. "There were things added to their diets that we didn't expect, and some carb-based products that weren't being cut from the diet."
Mixen said earlier studies by NPD suggest that people on low-carb diets tend to go on and off the diets frequently. "People still want to lose weight by eating, but getting people to change their behavior is very difficult to do," said Harry Balzer, vice president of NPD, in a prepared statement.
The study also showed that middle-aged consumers, ages 35 to 64, are the largest group currently attempting to reduce carb intake.
Of those who have limited their carb intake to diet-recommended levels, 40% said they also exercise three times a week. This group is 30% more likely to be obese, the report said.
Adults who regularly eat a high-carb diet are most likely to be an optimal weight or underweight, it stated.