Survey shows chicken popular with low-carbohydrate dieters

The chicken industry has benefited even more than beef or pork from the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets so popular with American consumers, according to a recent survey.

Among those following the high-protein, low-carbohydrate approach to dieting, twice as many people report eating more chicken than eating more beef, and pork comes in third among the major meats, according to the survey, conducted by PKS Research Partners for the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Results were released at a seminar for food writers held here.

Furthermore, people overwhelmingly choose chicken as the most appropriate meat if “low-fat” is added to “low-carbohydrate” as a diet criterion, the survey showed.

“Chicken is a much bigger winner from low-carb diets than commonly realized,” said Paul Prekopa of PKS Research Partners. “Chicken benefits from its low-fat reputation as well.”

Demand for chicken has strengthened over the past year as the low-carb diet philosophy took hold. A three-ounce serving of skinless chicken breast meat provides 24 grams of protein but less than two grams of total fat and, like other animal products, no carbohydrates.

The survey found that the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet phenomenon has had at least some influence on the eating patterns and habits of 19 percent of the adults responding to the survey, divided about equally between those who said it had “quite a bit” of influence (9 percent) and those who said it had “some” influence (10 percent). Twelve percent said it has had “very little” influence and 67 percent said it had no influence at all.

Women are more likely to be influenced by high-protein, low-carb diets, with 23 percent saying they have been influenced at least somewhat, compared to 15 percent of men. People aged 50 to 64 are somewhat more likely than other age categories to be on such diets, and higher-income people are more interested in them than other people.

After exploring the impact of the low-carbohydrate phenomenon on the respondents, the survey turned to asking how it has affected their choice of proteins. Of those who said that their eating habits were influenced “some” or “quite a bit” by the diets, the survey asked if they were eating more or less chicken, beef and pork.

Sixty-two percent said they were eating more chicken; 31 percent said they were eating more beef; and 28 percent said they were eating more pork.

On the other hand, six percent said they were eating less chicken, while 35 percent said they were eating less beef, and 25 percent, less pork.

Respondents were also asked which of the major meats -- beef, chicken, or pork -- is “most appropriate” in a low-carbohydrate and low-fat diet. Sixty-seven percent of respondents chose chicken as the most appropriate meat in that context, while 14 percent chose beef and nine percent chose pork.

“Chicken’s long-term reputation for lower fat content is clearly still an asset,” Prekopa said.

People eat chicken in some form an average of nearly six times in a two-week period, according to the survey.

The survey was conducted by telephone by PKS Research Partners on April 2-4, 2004. Responses were obtained from over 1,000 respondents nationwide, aged 18 and older. The sample is projectable to the national adult population in 95 out of 100 cases with a margin for error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is a national organization that represents its members in all aspects of poultry and eggs on both a national and an international level. Its mission revolves around research, education, communication, and product promotion. http://www.nationalchickencouncil.com

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