Wall Street and Atkins

What are these guys smoking?

“Meat consumption up 1st time in 20 years”:http://www.cincypost.com/news/2000/beef011100.html

bq. Analysts also say the renewed popularity of high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets such as Dr. Robert Atkins’ new ”diet revolution” is helping to boost beef consumption.

“Dieters in Hog Heaven”:http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/porkrinds.html

bq. starting in 1997, sales of pork rinds have risen from around $300 million to $400 million, increasing 15 percent or more every year — the same year that Dr. Robert Atkins’ New Diet Revolution hit the best-seller lists, advocating that dieters swap protein for carbs. Coincidence? Many think not.

“Wheat Farmers Beef About Atkins Diet”:http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/04/28/health/main551336.shtml

bq. Popular low-carbohydrate diets have helped millions of people lose weight. But U.S. grain farmers say that as a result, their own wallets are getting slimmer.

This last article at least has some counter-claims too:

bq. Judi Adams, a registered dietitian who heads the Wheat Foods Council, said perceptions are disturbing. Adams pointed out obesity rates are lower in Italy, Germany and China, which consume more pasta, bread or rice than Americans do.

bq. “When you look at it from a commonsense approach, you cannot blame it on carbohydrates,” she said. “We’re eating too many calories.”

Now go to “The Bull About the Beef”:http://slate.msn.com/id/2088210/

bq. But Atkins is winning more credit than it deserves, say economists. It’s an example of how media excitement about a cultural trend leads to misinterpretation of an economic trend.

bq. The evidence most commonly cited to prove the Atkins diet is roiling the economy is a study by the Natural Marketing Institute that claims 25.4 million Americans—12 percent of the adult population—have tried the Atkins diet. […] under the methodology used by NMI in its survey of 2,000 families, anyone who forgoes bread for a few days in an attempt to lose a few pounds is considered an Atkins dieter.

bq. The Research Institute on Livestock Pricing reports that the average American per-capita consumption of beef has increased 1.8 pounds per year since 1997—another 525 million pounds per year. If the 6 million Atkins dieters are consuming all that additional beef, then they are eating 87.5 pounds more meat per year than they previously did, which would mean they’re now eating steak and burgers at every meal except breakfast. And that’s just beef. Pork, chicken, eggs—if all the increases in Atkins-friendly foods are due to Atkins dieters, it’s a wonder anyone has lost weight: They would have to be eating almost nonstop. (And those who note the surge in Atkins-friendly food tend to ignore an equally vigorous countertrend: Sales of Krispy Kreme donuts grew an amazing 25 percent last year, to $492 million, with cookies, potato chips, and other Atkins-verboten products following suit.)

Ok, that’s a whole lot of quoted text. The reason I wanted to blog about this are contained within the last article. Relatively simple number crunching shows that Atkins _cannot_ be solely responsible for the trend changes, and yet the news media, quoting “Wall Street Analysts”, are spouting the story everywhere. Are the analysts now so lazy that they’ll say anything? Or are the “analysts” merely PR and marketing flacks on retainer, their voices drowning out real analysis? Or are the newpapers simply making it all up, because any story with “Atkins” in it sells papers? It doesn’t really matter which; they’re all bad for us…

links via Plastic: Meat

posted at 11:51 am on Monday, September 29, 2003 in Current Events | Comments Off on Wall Street and Atkins

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