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The Coming Food Revolution: Changes in Food Consumption Resulting from New Nutritional Findings

77 pages (8.5 X 11) + Appendices
Insider Report: Learn quickly how your business will be affected. Focus on the US market with implications elsewhere

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“Forget your preconceived notions about healthy eating. A new nutrition story has emerged... Eating a 'balanced diet' is no longer the most important goal… the latest research has resulted in a new healthy eating (food) pyramid, a new concept of good fats and bad fats, and a greater understanding of the components of foods and how they influence health and longevity.” Harvard Medical School, Healthy Eating: A Guide to the New Nutrition 2003.

Is it just coincidence that wheat flour, potatoes and other foods that had long been steadily increasing in consumption suddenly reversed direction after the Atkins diet began its seven-year run on the New York Times Bestseller List in 1997; and conversely, that consumption of such products as eggs and red meat increased?

New concepts are affecting the view of what is healthy eating. New research on the glycemic index (how fast carbohydrates turn to sugar in the blood), the mal-absorption and toxicity of various grains, lack of nutrition in many processed foods, the sugar content of foods like fruit juices, pesticide/antibiotic/chemical composition of foods and changing views on the affects of cholesterol and other lipids - all continue to affect consumer food choices.  Despite media suggestions to the contrary, low carb is not off the plate in North America.  An Opinion Dynamics poll in the summer of 2005 indicates the low carb movement is holding steady at 13% of the US population, comparable to the average 12%  throughout  2004.

At the same time many are wishing the low fat diet would re-appear, dieticians are quietly incorporating the glycemic index and new oils and fats into their version of a healthy diet. This ad hoc behavior is typical of a failing paradigm. The next round of low carb dieting will probably be initiated with even greater force than before, based on a host of new studies showing positive benefits and minimal side affects of the low carb diet.

It now appears that low carbohydrate and other new diet concepts have successfully challenged the existing food pyramid by demonstrating that over-consumption of refined carbohydrates is a number one health problem associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other health concerns. Moreover, researchers like Ravnskov, McCully, Erasmus, Enig, Fallon and Groves have upset previous thinking about the roles that various fats and cholesterol play in the diet, already somewhat challenged by the generally accepted importance of fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids). Having breeched the walls of the traditional food guide pyramid, the Atkins diet and others have opened the gate to many other new and exciting food discoveries in recent years, many of which were previously ignored because they didn't fit the existing food pyramid. Characteristics of the "old order" and the "new order" are presented below, as perceived by the researcher.

Sample Old Thinking (1990's and before):  

  1. if you eat fat you become fat (don't eat fatty foods)

  2. saturated fats clog the arteries and are associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer (don't eat fatty meats and butter)

  3. complex carbohydrates are good for us,

  4. little distinction is made between refined and unrefined carbohydrates,

  5. unsaturated vegetable oils are generally good for us, in moderation,

  6. high cholesterol is a good predictor of heart disease (don't eat eggs),

  7. fruits and vegetables are good for us (eat 2-4 and 3-5 servings per day, respectively)

  8. artificial sweeteners are generally safe,

  9. grains are an excellent source of nutrition (eat 5 to 11 servings per day),

  10. drink low fat skim milk,

  11. to be safe, dairy products should be pasteurized,

  12. grain-fed cattle are good for us,

  13. dietary fiber is good for us, protects from cancer,

  14. salt is bad for us,

  15. soy is an excellent health food,

  16. monosaturated oils like canola and peanut are good for us,

  17. alcohol is bad for us,

  18. modern food processing technology brings us the highest quality nutrition available, under the circumstances,

  19. use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and genetically engineered foods is under control,

  20. with a balanced diet, supplements are unnecessary, and

  21. we are entering a miracle age of new drugs to combat health problems and disease,

  22. and more...

Sample New Thinking

  1. eat fat and lose weight,

  2. many saturated fats are good for us and many others do little harm, (eat meat and high fat dairy products),

  3. highly glycemic carbohydrates are bad for us,

  4. big distinction between refined and unrefined carbohydrates,

  5. unsaturated fats clog arteries more than saturated fats; hydrogenated oils and trans fats are most dangerous, (don't eat margarine)

  6. high cholesterol is a poor predictor of heart disease and low levels of cholesterol may be even more harmful for many; several other factors are more important than high cholesterol in predicting heart disease (also known as Syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome)

  7. many fruits are loaded with sugar and relatively low in phytonutrients, including antioxidants and many vegetables are loaded with starches (complex sugars); over-riding nutritional advantages,

  8. artificial sweeteners are generally unsafe,

  9. grains may not be an optimal source of nutrition and may be linked to serious health problems,

  10. drinking high fat cream may be better than drinking milk,

  11. pasteurized cow's milk may not be a good source of nutrition and may even be harmful to many,

  12. grain-fed cattle are a significant health threat for many reasons, 

  13. dietary fiber may not be good for us and it may even cause cancer,

  14. salt (esp. sea salt) is more healthful than harmful; relatively few people are sensitive to salt and the association with high blood pressure is inconsistent,

  15. soy products as generally consumed in North America are shaping up to be a major health concern for many reasons,

  16. canola oil and peanut oil may hide toxins,

  17. moderate consumption of alcohol is good for us,

  18. many foods, oils and products like ordinary table salt are exposed to high temperature processing that destroys their nutritional value and/or adds impurities,

  19. use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and genetically engineered foods presents significant problems, 

  20. some supplements are necessary, especially as you age, and

  21. many drugs are unnecessary, over-prescribed or carry harmful side-effects; often they can be inexpensively replaced by good (or preventative) healthy eating practices.

  22. and much more...

A new nutrition story is emerging and, according to Harvard Medical School researchers, we might be better off swilling a glass of vegetable oil than eating our fruits and vegetables. This appears to be an extreme position, given the already historically high consumption of omega-6 fatty acids that some researchers are suggesting may be at the root of significant health problems.  Is this the new nutrition plan of the future?  MRA reports on this and many other new research findings, starting with the low carbohydrate diet.

The report examines the low carbohydrate movement in general, and exposes contradictions and myths concerning the present food pyramid and proposed dietary guidelines.  Since fats and proteins have little effect on insulin levels, while carbohydrates do, the new thinking concerning the glycemic index of various foods is investigated as just one of the cornerstones that might support the low-carb movement.  Several other reasons are presented to explain why the low-carb phenomenon is not likely to disappear and how this will affect future food consumption in North America.  The reader may be surprised at two relatively "heavy nutritional hitters" who have already placed their chips behind the low-carb diet, and how they have done so.

Source: Market Research Associates Ltd., based on USDA Data

The above chart illustrates trends in US food consumption before, and after, 1997 when the Atkins diet began its 7-year long run on the New York Times Best Seller List.  The chart shows that red meat and egg consumption, previously declining for many years, began to increase in consumption in 1998.  Meanwhile, potatoes, wheat, fruits and sugar, previously increasing in consumption, began declining after 1997.  The latest preliminary information indicates that the above trends have accelerated considerably since 2001/02.  These findings are consistent with recommendations from the Atkins diet and suggest the diet is changing long-held food consumption patterns. The above data is based on United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics.

Because it proposes a radical change in the consumption of basic nutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates) Dr. Robert Atkins called his book a "diet revolution."  However, a change in the North American diet will ripple back through the food delivery system ultimately affecting food harvesters, food processors, food distributors, food packaging, food retailing and more, i.e.- a food revolution.

The report is primarily written to address the expected economic situation that many agri-food companies (the food and beverage industry) will find themselves in when consumers change long-standing food consumption behaviors. A preliminary estimate of the affects of the coming food revolution on individual food products is also included.  The report should be of particular interest to the food and beverage industry, agriculture specialists, agronomists, nutritionists, dieticians and agri-food economic planners. The report has implications, not only for North America, but for those concerned with healthy eating everywhere.

This report expresses the opinions of a market researcher who has analyzed and synthesized the most recent information on food consumption, along with new nutrition findings, to come to certain conclusions in the light of present market knowledge. Conclusions, in part, lack information inputs that call for further study. Nonetheless, a picture is being painted of significant economic disturbance in the agri-food sector of the economy because of diet and nutrition changes that can be presently observed and, in some cases, measured.  The report provides the following information among other things:

1) a statistical analysis of the daily per capita consumption of major food groups in the US since 1970,
2) per capita consumption in terms of carbohydrates, fats and proteins from specific food groups and the resulting energy (kilo-calorie) picture,
3) a statistical analysis that presents a high correlation between changes in major food group consumption and the introduction of the Atkins (low-carb) diet,
4) anecdotal evidence that supports a causal relationship between low-carb diets and a significant change in the types of food consumed,
5) why the consumption of fats, particularly saturated fats, and cholesterol is no longer of such great concern to many nutritionists,
6) an estimate of future changes in consumption of many of the major food products affected by low-carb diets,
7) provides many early warning alerts on major products and food groups that may soon find themselves in big trouble,
8) identifies new opportunities in our new low-carb, new nutrition world,
9) discusses controversial health claims and what is likely going to happen to "lite," "low" and "low fat" labelling,
10) provides some ideas to high-carb producers on counter-acting the new trends.

New!  For Sale:

We ship by courier immediately upon the receipt of a bona fide purchase order, check or payment by visa.  Sorry, the publication is not available in an electronic version.

Additional information can be obtained by calling 902-425-1320 or e-mail: mra@marrketresearchassociates.com, using the subject: "Food Revolution."

Report Outline:

TABLE OF CONTENTS             


Overview of the Coming Food Revolution     

            Some Current Scientific Thinking on Low Carbohydrate Diets    

Nutritional Components of the US Diet – 1970 and 1994

Saturated Fatty Acids
Obesity as A Result of the Present Diet

The Traditional Food Pyramid and Food Guide
Harvard’s New Healthy Eating Pyramid
Measuring the Effects of the Low Carbohydrate Diet on Food Consumption
The Future of Low-Carb Diets
Even Newer Directions
New Diet Pyramid? 

            Factors Involved In Estimating Economic
Market Demand Estimates of Changes in Food Consumption (US)
            Discussion of Results
            Discussion of Table Projections 

            Core Beliefs 

            Vegetable Oils
            Canola Oil
            Margarine and Other Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils
            Soy Products
            Sugars and Products Made from Sugars
            Aspartame and Other Sugar Substitutes
            Milk and Other Pasteurized Dairy Products
            Red Meat and Poultry
            Potatoes, Root and Yellow Vegetables and Legumes
            Genetically-Modified Foods
            Beverages and Water               

            Organic Farming
            Low-Carb Foods
            Grain and Grain-like Products
            Sugar Substitutes
            Meat, Egg, Nut and Cheese Markets
            Berry and Fruit Crops
            Green Vegetables and Salad Foods
            Range-Fed Livestock and Game Animals
            Unpasteurized Dairy Products
            Fish: Fish Oils
            Coconut Oil
            Sea Salt

            Shaky Agricultural Practices
            Pharmaceuticals on the Line
            A Tilted Food Pyramid
            Questionable Health Claims and Potential New Labelling
            Consumption Changes
            What Can Be Done If You Have A High-Carb Product?
            Some Final Thoughts

LIST OF TABLES (May be Abridged)

Table 1 - US per Capita Consumption of Carbohydrates and Protein by Food Group, Years 1970 and 1994*
            Table 2 - US per Capita Consumption of Fats and Energy by Food Group, Years 1970 and 1994*
            Table 3 - US per Capita Consumption of Fats by Type and Food Group, Years 1970 and 1994
            Table 4 - US per Capita Consumption of Selected Foods and Percentage Change 1997 and 2001/2002
            Table 5 - Projected Percentage (%) Decrease in US Carbohydrate Demand by Year
            Table 6 - US per Capita Consumption of Carbohydrates by Food Group,
Actual and Projected (2002 - 2005+)
            Table 7 - US per Capita Consumption of Proteins by Food Group,
Actual and Projected (2002 - 2005+)
            Table 8 - US per Capita Consumption of Energy by Food Group, Actual and Projected (2002 - 2005+)
            Table 9 - Estimated % Decrease in Demand for Specific Food Products Affected by Low-Carb Diets
            Table 10 - Estimated % Increase in Demand for Specific Products
Affected by Low-Carb Diets
            Table 11 -
Unclassified or Mixed Demand for Specific Products Affected by Low-Carb Diets
            Table 12 - Certified Organic and Total U.S. Acreage, Selected Crops, 1995-2001

            Table 13 - U.S. Certified Organic Livestock 2001-2002, Cattle and Poultry
            * Note: 1994 data has particular relevance to the study and a direct bearing on 2003 food consumption trends.

            Figure 1 – Traditional Food Guide Pyramid
            Figure 2 – Harvard Medical School’s New Healthy Eating Pyramid
            Figure 2 –
Potential New Low-Carb, Healthy Food Pyramid

            Appendix 1 – Suggested Readings
            Appendix 2 – Anecdotal Evidence
            Appendix 3 – Sample Low-Carb Products

Sample tables in the report.

Table 4 - US Per Capita Consumption (pounds) of Selected Foods and Percentage Change between 1997 and 2001/2002
Inferred Atkins Diet Influence

Table 4 (Sample Format)

US Per Capita Consumption (pounds) of Selected Foods, in Selected Years, and

Percentage of Change between 1997 and 2001/2002


Food Category







% Change **


Sugar and Sweeteners



Sugar 1/



Wheat Flour












Skim Milk



Fruits, all



Red Meat*









Tree Nuts




1/ Domestic sugar deliveries for food and beverage use,  
* 2002 Estimates are revised based on 2000 census.

** Table 4 illustrates direction of changes (data not shown) in food consumption already happening that would be predicted by the Atkins Diet.  Per capita consumption of sugar, wheat, potatoes, carrots, corn, skim milk and fruits that was previously increasing, declined after 1997.  Consumption of red meat. eggs and nuts, previously decreasing, is now increasing.  Poultry, although previously increasing, is showing significantly new increased consumption. (Note: 2002 preliminary data shows increases not reflected in the above table.)
Source:     MRA based on USDA data.

Table 5 - Projected Percentage (%) Decrease in US Carbohydrate Demand By Year

Table 5 (Sample Format)

Projected Percentage (%) Decrease in US Carbohydrate Demand By Year (data not shown)

Diet Factor

Base Year




2005 -



Potential Dieters

(% of Total Population - PTP)


Potential Low-carb Dieters

(% of Potential Dieters - PPD)


Low-carb Dieters (% of Total Population)



Potential Decrease in Total Carbohydrate Consumption


* Base year and before included in 2003 projection.
** Assumes potential dieters and non-dieters consume the same amount of carbohydrates, on average, in the  base year.
Source: MRA

Table 9 - Estimated % Decrease in Demand for Specific Food Products Affected by Low-Carb Diets

Table 9 (Sample Format)

Estimated Decrease in Demand for Specific Products (Sample)

Affected by Low-carb Diets



Expected Percentage (%) of Decreased Demand

(Data Not Shown)



2005- 2007

Bagel, Do-nut,  Baked Goods, Desserts


Beer, Regular


Bread, Rolls, English Muffins




Corn, Carrots, Beets


Corn chips/ Taco /Tortillas Shells


Crackers, Graham Crackers


Fruits (Bananas, Oranges, Peaches, Pineapple)


Fruit Juices/Drinks, Regular Soft Drinks


Ice Cream






Low-fat Milk (also see Diary in Table 9)


Oatmeal, Regular and Quick


Pita Bread




Potatoes, Boiled or Roasted


Potatoes, Deep Fried


Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes






Spaghetti, Macaroni, Pasta


Sugar/Sweets (Candy, Chocolate, Ice Cream)




The essence of a revolution is the overthrow of the established order. A food revolution is coming, but few are listening. At one time IBM was letting small contracts to a man called Bill Gates. Now Bill Gates (i.e., Microsoft) is letting small contracts to IBM. Call it denial, resistance to change or just bureaucratic feather-bedding and inefficiency. The truth is - large organizations are generally the last to hear, and the last to respond, to new market changes. Then... poof!  Fortunes can be made or lost. This book should help you minimize your threats and/or maximize your opportunities.

For example, Atkins believed his diet was the preferred treatment for diabetes. Most other low-carb diet books make a similar claim about treating diabetes.  However, the American Diabetes Association has suggested "Eat more starches! It is healthiest for everyone to eat more whole grains, beans, and starchy vegetables such as peas, corn, potatoes and winter squash. Starches are good for you because they have very little fat, saturated fat, or cholesterol."

Starches are basically sugars. The American Diabetes Association suggests putting dried fruit (concentrated sugar) on your cereal (complex sugars).  Obviously, one of the above has it wrong. Which one? Diabetes is a leading cause of heart disease, but the American Heart Association thinks low-carb (high fat) diets cause heart disease. The low-carb diet is still on trial in the medical community and the results of further clinical tests are still years away. But not everyone is waiting.

The author of the report is Robin W. A. Rodger, MBA, Certified Management Consultant since 1983 and a food market research specialist.  His previous publications include Fish Facts: An Illustrated Guide to Commercial Species, published by Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY, NY, 1991 and the Maritime Health and Food Consumer Report, published by the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing, Canada, 1996.  He has also authored agri-food strategies on various NAFTA initiatives as well as authoring two export marketing publications. In addition, his company, Market Research Associates Ltd., has produced numerous confidential private sector reports for the food and beverage industry.

This report was funded entirely by Market Research Associates Ltd. (MRA), an unaffiliated, independent consulting firm. 

Sample abstract from the report (page 3)

The Coming Food Revolution

Some of the Current Scientific Thinking on Low Carbohydrate Diets

A report on two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine (May 22, 2003) has been credited with giving the low-carb diet (particularly the Akins version) a major boost. [1],[2]  In general, these studies concluded that the low-carbohydrate diet:

  1. produced greater weight-loss than a conventional diet (although, in one study, this was only significant in the short term),

  1. was associated with a greater improvement in some risk factors for coronary heart disease [both studies showed a lowering of serum triglycerides, while one study showed an increase in HDL (i.e., high-density lipo-proteins, or the “good cholesterol”) and the other study showed an increase in insulin sensitivity], and

  1. requires longer and larger studies before a carbohydrate-restricted diet can be endorsed.

On the surface of it, these findings may not seem startling, except that most nutrition experts were expecting the low-carb diet to show an increase of risk factors for heart disease – not a lowering. As for the need for further study, proponents of the low-carb diet say relevant studies already exist, but have been ignored. A cover story article in the New York Times Magazine (July, 2002) presented a summary of the results of five studies conducted over the years.[3] In the words of the author, “These studies are remarkably consistent. Subjects on some form of the Atkins diet… lost twice the weight as the subjects on the low-fat, low-calorie diets. In all five studies, cholesterol levels improved similarly with both diets, but triglyceride levels were considerably lower with the Atkins diet.” [4]

David Ludwig, a nutrition researcher at Harvard University, is quoted in the same article as saying, ''Grain products and concentrated sugars were essentially absent from human nutrition until the invention of agriculture, which was only 10,000 years ago.'' The implication is that humans evolved as meat-eaters. Observation of many of hunter-gatherer tribes still existing in recent times and consuming a high-fat diet (e.g., the Inuit) also found little evidence of heart disease.[5]

Another study describes a “Spanish Paradox” where heart disease declined after consumption of beef, pork, poultry and cream increased significantly, while consumption of major carbohydrate groups decreased.[6]   The French have also been able to consume a diet high in fats with a relatively low incidence of heart disease (also referred to as “The French Paradox”).

The issue of how well the low-carb diet should hold up in the long run is discussed in more depth later in this report. 

[1] Foster, G. et al., A Randomized Trial of a Low Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity, N Engl J Med 348;2
[2] Samaha, F., A Low Carbohydrate Diet as Compared with a Low Fat Diet in Severe Obesity, N Engl J Med 348;2
[3] Taubes, G., What if it is All a Big Fat Lie? New York Times Magazine, July 8, 2002.
[4] Results of new studies may not be available for five years or longer.
[5] Price, W., Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, McGraw Hill – NTC; 6 ed. 1998.
[6] Serra-Majem L et al., How could changes in diet explain changes in coronary heart disease mortality in Spain? The Spanish Paradox. Am J Clin Nutr 1995; 61 (suppl): 1351S-9S


Buy Now!

We ship immediately upon the receipt of a bona fide purchase order, check or payment by visa.  Sorry, the publication is not available in an electronic version.
Additional information can be obtained by calling 902-425-1320 or e-mail:
mra@marrketresearchassociates.com, using the subject: "Food Revolution."

The Coming Food Revolution: Changes in Food Consumption Resulting from the Atkins Low Carbohydrate Diet and New Nutrition Findings

ISBN 0-9693595-8-6

is published by Canadian Marine Publications for Market Research Associates Ltd. (MRA),

PO Box 34097, Halifax, NS, B3J 3S1; Telephone 902-425-1320, Fax 902-425-1325,

E-Mail: mra@marrketresearchassociates.com,

Website: www.marketresearchassociates.com

Copyright 2003, Robin W. A. Rodger
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or
otherwise, without written permission from the author

This report is available for purchase at 902-425-1320. 

Publisher’s Note: The author, publisher and/or its agents accept no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for adverse affects arising from following the advice given in this publication.

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