Survey Estimates 32 Million Adult Americans Are On High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diets

- Most On High-Protein/Low-Carbohydrate Diets Mistakenly Believe

They Get Enough Fiber -

Sep 16, 2003, 01:00 ET from Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.

    NEW YORK, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- An estimated 32 million
 Americans are on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets and, as a result, are
 likely getting far less than their daily recommended fiber intake, according
 to recent survey findings and an analysis of currently popular diets.  Yet
 two-thirds of those on such diets think they are getting enough fiber, the
 survey found.
     The survey of more than 2,000 adults found that 15 percent said they are
 currently on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet.  Because such diets limit
 the intake of carbohydrate foods -- which are the main source of dietary fiber
 -- those who follow these diets generally obtain less than the current
 recommended intake of fiber.  Fifteen percent of the current estimated
 211,637,000 U.S. adult population is 31,745,550 adults.
     "We've known for some time that, on average, Americans get less than half
 the recommended intake of dietary fiber," said Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., Professor
 of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota.  "This survey
 and our analysis of diets and fiber intake show the situation is even worse
 for people following currently popular, low-carbohydrate diets," she said.
     Nutrition experts have long recognized that an adequate intake of dietary
 fiber is important in a healthy diet.  Last year, for the first time since
 1941, the Food and Nutrition Board recommended to the FDA that the Recommended
 Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals be revised to include a
 higher fiber intake.  They recommended Americans consume 38 grams of dietary
 fiber per day for men and 25 grams per day for women.  Current typical fiber
 intake levels for the average American range from 16 to 18 grams per day for
 men and 12 to 14 grams per day for women.
     Diet Survey and Analysis
     In the survey, 2,078 adults 18 years and older -- including 940 men and
 1,138 women -- were asked if they were following a low-carbohydrate,
 high-protein diet and, if so, which one.  Of those on these diets, the most
 popular named diet was Atkins(R) (35%), followed by South Beach Diet(R) (6%)
 and Zone(R) (1%).  Other respondents said they were following a high-protein,
 low-carbohydrate diet specified by their doctor (12%).
     Dr. Slavin determined the fiber content of the diets based on previously
 published findings and her own analyses of sample menus provided by the diets'
 websites, and calculated how much of the current recommended fiber intake each
 diet provides.  The three most popular diets fell short in their fiber content
 (see fiber chart).
     Diet             Daily Calorie   Grams of   Percent of Adequate Intake**
                        Allowance      Fiber*   Men (38 g/day) Women (25 g/day)
     - Induction           1020         11             29            44
     - Weight loss         1300          7             19            29
     - Pre-maintenance     1505         13             33            50
     - Lifetime
        maintenance        1680          6             15            23
     South Beach Diet(R)
     - Phase 1             1045          4             12            18
     - Phase 2             1090          8             20            30
     - Phase 3             1030          3              8            12
     Zone(R)               1600         18             47            72
      * Values rounded to the nearest gram; calculations for percent of
        adequate daily fiber intake were calculated based on non-rounded values
        for grams of fiber
     ** Values based on the Food and Nutrition Board's new fiber
     Despite the fiber deficits of the diets, 67 percent of respondents on the
 diets said they believed they were getting enough fiber, while 13 percent said
 they weren't and 19 percent weren't sure.
     "People on low-carbohydrate diets need to realize these diets fall far
 short of current recommendations for fiber intake, and find ways to increase
 their fiber consumption," said Dr. Slavin.  She said that because it's
 difficult to increase fiber intake from foods while on a
 carbohydrate-restricted diet, fiber supplements can be especially helpful.
 "Fiber supplements, like Benefiber(R), can be easily added to non-carbonated
 beverages or a wide variety of foods, without affecting taste or texture, and
 can significantly increase total fiber intake."  Though most high-protein,
 low-carbohydrate diets add foods containing fiber in later phases, often times
 dieters are still not meeting the RDA for adequate fiber intake, Dr. Slavin
 found.  "In addition, many dieters delay adding the carbohydrate foods in
 order to lose more weight -- making a fiber supplement even more important."
     Dr. Slavin also said that a fiber supplement can be helpful for people on
 diets that are not carbohydrate restricted, since they limit food and,
 therefore, fiber intake; and generally for the many Americans who get less
 than half the recommended level of fiber.
     Celebrity Chefs Feature Fiber
     Dr. Slavin presented the survey findings and diet analysis as part of a
 special event called the "Five Star Feast" held today at the Bryant Park Grill
 in New York City and sponsored by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.  Held during
 "Fashion Week," the event featured recipes using Benefiber developed by top
 personal chefs and caterers of such stars as Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Lisa
 Kudrow, Courteney Cox-Arquette, John Travolta and George Clooney, many of whom
 also follow low-carbohydrate and high-protein diets.
     "The intent of the event is to not only make people aware of how low fiber
 intakes are, especially among dieters, but also how easy it is to address the
 problem with a supplement like Benefiber, which can be readily incorporated
 into even very sophisticated gourmet recipes," said Dr. Slavin.
     Several recipes created by the chefs will be available soon on
     About Dietary Fiber
     Also known as "roughage," dietary fiber is defined as plant material
 resistant to digestion in the human gastrointestinal tract.  There are two
 main types of fiber: insoluble, which accounts for about two-thirds to
 three-fourths of the fiber in the diet and is found mostly in wheat bran and
 vegetables; and soluble, which accounts for the remainder of fiber in the
 diet, has a gummy consistency and is found mostly in fruits, some vegetables,
 dried beans, peas and oat products.  The FDA currently recommends a daily
 allowance of 25 grams of fiber for both men and women.  However, the Food and
 Nutrition Board's recent recommendations to the FDA call for the following as
 an adequate intake of dietary fiber: 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams per
 day for women, and other amounts for other age and sex groups.  Current
 typical fiber intake levels range from 16 to 18 grams per day for men and 12
 to 14 grams per day for women.
     About the Survey
     The diet survey was conducted by Harris Interactive(R) in August, 2003,
 via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus, interviewing a nationwide sample of
 2,078 U.S. adults ages 18 years and over, of whom 291 self-identified that
 they were currently on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.  Data for the
 total sample were weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult
 population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household
 income, and race/ethnicity.  Although this online sample is not a probability
 sample, in theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with
 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or
 minus 8.7 percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult
 population had been polled with complete accuracy.  The survey and diet
 analysis were sponsored by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc., makers of
     About Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.
     Novartis AG (NYSE:   NVS) is a world leader in pharmaceuticals and consumer
 health.  In 2002, the Group's businesses achieved sales of USD 20.9 billion
 and a net income of USD 4.7 billion.  The Group invested approximately USD 2.8
 billion in R&D.  Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies
 employ about 77 200 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world.
 For further information please consult
     Atkins(R) is a registered trademark of Atkins Nutritionals, Inc.
     South Beach Diet(R) is a registered trademark of Market America, Inc.
     Zone(R) is a registered trademark of Barry D. Sears
     Harris Interactive(R) is a registered trademark of Harris Interactive,

SOURCE Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.