New survey shows three out of four diets fail

"All diets, in their essence, will fail,” says Anne Mixon of the marketing research group NPD, who points to a new survey showing three out of four diets fail.

A discussion on the nation’s low-carb craze at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo, researchers and industry representatives agreed that American’s need to make balanced lifestyle changes that include regular exercise and a healthy diet. However, panelists disagreed strongly with what constitutes a healthy diet.

“The food pyramid is the smoking gun of obesity,” said Dr. Gil Wilshire of the Carbohydrate Awareness Council, who pointed to the reliance on whole grains as the cause of the obesity epidemic. “Do you know how we fatten up cattle? We put them in a pen, keep them sedentary and feed them corn and grain. That’s what we’re doing in the U.S.” Wilshire, who lost 105 pounds on a reduced carbohydrate diet, suggested avoiding white foods including pasta, potatoes and refined sugar.

The Food Guide Pyramid can’t be blamed for obesity in America since less than six percent of people actually follow the recommendations, said Judi Adams, a registered dietician with the Wheat Foods Council. Adams points to several statistics that combat the “demonization” of carbohydrates. For example, Italians eat five times as much pasta as Americans and have half the obesity rate. Germans eat three times more bread and have only two-thirds the obesity rate of the Americans.

Scientists here presented prototypes of some of the first attempts at food preparation equipment for long-duration space missions.

R. Paul Singh, food engineering professor at University of California at Davis, showed the prototype for a fruit and vegetable processing system for advanced life support. It’s designed to process tomatoes—slicing, dicing, crushing, and juicing them for soup, sauce, and paste

Adams also points to the National Weight Control Registry, a group of Americans who have lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for a year or longer. The group lost weight by eating a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet of fewer calories, and exercising daily.

“We’re looking for the silver bullet,” said Dr. Mike Otterburn of food manufacturer Cargill. “I think most of us have said it’s a balance. It’s exercise and it’s lifestyle change. There’s not a silver bullet.”

An online survey presented by The Valen Group revealed that among adults who are not currently on a low-carb diet, nearly 20 percent would consider trying one within the following year primarily because they have seen demonstrated success. The Valen Group CEO Stuart Rabkin quickly noted that low-carb consumers follow other healthy lifestyle practices, exercise more than average American and 83 percent of them monitor the quantity of food they eat.

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