pie-chartThe response rate for the survey far exceeded my expectations. While I didn’t really have a previous run of this survey to compare against, I have seen surveys on other blogs not really do so well – so I didn’t expect too big of a response. However, the turn out was really good (due mainly to the help of other bloggers) and we got over 2,600 entries the first day!

Over the course of two weeks, the total count came to 6,104 entries. However, this should be qualified by the number of abandoned or incomplete entries which was around 500 on average. I say on average because not all questions were required.


I received a lot of feedback during the course of the survey, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness that people put into their comments. For the most part, the feedback consisted of ideas for improving questions to make the survey more useful. While I tried to design the survey to make it as effective as possible, the instant feedback I received made it clear that improvements could be made.

Where the design of the survey and particular questions was lacking, I can primarily lay the blame at my own subconscious biases. It is difficult to make a survey engaging yet useful, while also kept within an allowable size limit. Eliminating the tunnel vision one receives from personal experiences or preferences is a challenge. We should all keep this in mind when evaluating other pieces of data or research conducted in the field in nutrition.

Maintaining perfect impartiality can be difficult, even when purposefully trying to do so.

I did choose to exclude one specific question from the results, since it had a glaring validity issue (there wasn’t an option for “zero hours of intense exercise”). Other than that the rest of the questions and your responses are now available for your review.

Paleo survey in 2012?

Yes, based on the great response this time around I definitely plan on doing another one next year. Hopefully I’ll have more resources to devote to incentives and prize drawings for respondents. The system employed this year worked well, and I was excited to send off Amazon.com gift cards to three lucky (and random) survey takers.

I also expect the next iteration of the survey to allow more qualifying choices for each question to ensure that a respondent isn’t left without an appropriate response they can choose. As well, question categories will be expanded to provide more compelling data on all categories but especially sections like raw food consumption, and exercise patterns. Just about all of the feedback I received was incredible, so I will be including those suggestions in the next version.

Enough already, show me the results!

I used Wufoo to manage the survey and they have some neat capabilities for reporting out the data collected through their forms. You can view the full report here.

I’d like to say thank you again to everybody who participated in this year’s Paleo Community Survey. I think the results will provide some interesting insight into our burgeoning movement, and help to further refine questions for future surveys and research.

Please “like” or retweet this to let everybody know the results of the survey are available.

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33 Responses to 2011 Paleo Community Survey Results Released

  1. Mark says:

    Great info! Thanks!

    Here are my big take aways:

    1). Sex Ratio. Surprisingly, the sex ratio is fairly balanced. This goes against the expectation that paleo is a much more popular lifestyle choice among men. It was 52/48 men to women.

    2). High Education. The average education level for paleo eaters is well about the national average. Seventy percent of respondents had either a bachelors or graduate degree.

    3). Increasing popularity. Most of the respondents turned to the diet within the past two years, and 40 percent started just within the past 6 months. I think this shows the paleo diet has hit a take-off point, but we’d need a follow up survey with the original takers to learn what the drop out rate is.

    4). Geography. This is a very American trend, which makes sense to me. I wish we had a state by state break down to find out out where our paleo “meccas” are.

    • David Csonka says:

      One thing to keep in mind is that the survey was in English, so the geographic results will skew to the USA somewhat. Hopefully, next year a multi-lingual survey will be possible.

      • Mark says:

        Yeah, but would this matter much? If the high education trend continues, you’d still be dealing with English speakers. Plus, there aren’t many (any?) non-english paleo blogs to advertise the survey.

        • Alexandra says:

          Are you sure about that?
          I know a few Hungarian blogs :)
          I would be happy to advertise this survey next year on my blog.
          David, if you need, I can help in the Hungarian version. But you might speek Hungarian :)

          • David Csonka says:

            Thanks, we might do that!
            I don’t speak Hungarian, but I know for sure that’s where my family came from. I saw the ship passenger manifest of the boat that brought my grandfather over from Austria-Hungary.

        • Txomin says:

          Sadly, the relation you think exists between educated people and English-speaking people says a lot about your lack of education and nothing about educated people or English-speaking people.

    • Paul C says:

      Don’t forget this is a survey taken by computer users that read blogs. That still skews results toward the young, students, computer industry users, and more educated people that like to read. The demographics says more about the blog reading community than the paleo community, imo.

  2. Dana Law says:

    Thank you so much for this survey. It’s an eye opener. My first impression is the variety of responses to the questions. This make me believe it is an accurate view of peoples Paleo experience. Second the preponderance of under 30 adherents.
    Perhaps because of difficulty of Crossfit it’s a younger persons game. At 57 staying up with the fire breathers is a big challenge. I have to scale it way down.
    On the other hand eating clean is the hardest thing I do.
    Your survey was fascinating. Thank you for your hard work.
    Dana Law
    San Diego

  3. Ana J says:

    This is great! Can I post some of this info/discussion on my blog? I will put a link to yours of course!

  4. Kevin says:


    Thank you very much for heading up this effort. It will be interesting to see how it evolves in the future.

    A couple take aways for me:
    I found the percentage of respondents answering ‘Other’ for occupation surprising. It would be interesting to see some professions falling in that category.

    Most respondents are looking to the internet for nutrition information, and I would assume this holds outside the Paleo community.

    Most doubt this will ever become mainstream.

    For most respondents, food costs went up while there were no changes in medical costs. As for medical costs, I imagine this is mostly due to the age of the typical respondent.

    Thanks again,

  5. [...] that Paleo Community Survey that I posted a few weeks ago?  Well, the results are in!  Click here to view them!  Thanks again to all that [...]

  6. Cathy L says:

    for me medical costs didn’t change because there ARE no medical costs — I rarely visit the doctor — my insurance company should give me a bonus every year for saving them money!

  7. Jason says:

    It’s interesting to note that a majority of people from your survey on the Paleo diet are educated. I suppose it takes an educated mind to think outside of the Mcdonalds box. I am also surprised how many people DON’T use Splenda. Maybe its just the environment i’m in, but its starting to become more popular than ketchup

  8. [...] Paleo Community Survey Results Released [...]

  9. Primalisten says:

    Hehe I run a new, still small, swedish paleo blog and directed people to this survey. Not many though.
    I found it interesting that some people actually answered that they sit down 24 hours each day. Pretty impressive ;-)
    Post a survey like this is one year from now and I predict you’ll see the double amount of answers. The whole paleo/primal/(low-carb) message is truly galning ground.

  10. MNMom says:

    Very interesting. I am not surprised by the sex ratio – I don’t actually know a single man who is Paleo. I do, however, know a substantial number of women who are. Typical Paleo woman in my area: educated, stay-at-home mom who found Paleo while researching health.

  11. » 2011 Paleo Community Survey engrevo says:

    [...] *UPDATE* The results have been posted. [...]

  12. Wow, thanks for the hard work on this, David! Beautiful graphics, too.

    I was surprised that 56% of respondents ate very low-carb (< 50 g/day). The scientific literature indicates that paleo diet energy from carbohydrate is between 20 to 45% of the total, with 30% probably the average.

    Lots of young adults are eating 2500 calories a day. If 30% of those calories are derived from carbohydrate, that's 187 grams.

    Lots of variables to consider, blah, blah, blah…


    • David Csonka says:

      There are no doubt a pretty good number of paleos who do Crossfit. It’s difficult to do a lot of frequent metcon workouts on a low-carb diet. I’m sure most of them probably eat some sort of potato.

    • Paul C says:

      I have a feeling the 50g part didn’t get processed by most people. I had to read that question carefully, and I happened to know what 50g means in terms of diet. Essentially eating one banana makes it almost impossible to stay under 50g for the day if you are doing unmeasured paleo in a semi-relaxed manner as many are doing as indicated by this survey.

  13. Debs says:

    If there’s 2400 single paleo folk, equally mixed between male and female, who’s setting up the Paleo dating website then?!

    I’ll sign up for it!

  14. Whole Life Diets, Autoimmune diet, Registered Dietitian, Paleo » Blog Archive » 2011 Paleo Community Survey says:

    [...] Paleo Community results are in! The website Naturally Engineered sponsored a survey of the online Paleo community. There were 6,104 responses to the survey! What a [...]

  15. [...] 2011 Paleo Community Survey Results Released | Naturally Engineered 'The paleo community' as represented by the respondents to this survey isn't as skewed by gender [...]

  16. That Paleo Thing – Who, What, Where, When and Why | stoneaging says:

    [...] Csonka at Naturally Engineered just completed and posted his results for his 2011 Paleo Community Survey. The survey went live on the Naturally Engineered website on 14 March and was supported by a number [...]

  17. Check the links… | Pure Spontaneity says:

    [...] Paleo Survey Results. [...]

  18. [...] up some posts I have started.  Anyway here is are the results of a Paleo survey.  Check out the results, and see where you fit [...]

  19. [...] for the 2011 Paleo Community Survey came out a week ago.  You can find them here.  A few of the results are particularly interesting although I’m inclined to ignore the [...]

  20. [...] you recall taking the Paleo Survey, you can see the results here, and feel free to discuss implications in comments. Two pleasant surprises for me: this is not a [...]

  21. Dregs says:

    Interesting that race was not quantified / analyzed in the survey. My feeling is that the phenomenon right now is overwhelmingly white. (For anecdotals, look at photos of things like PrimalCon etc.) Combine that with the age, educational and professional data, and you can see that paleo / primal is an extremely SWPL phenomenon.

    Also interesting to me how significant a proportion of people have tried vegan or vegetarian diets. It seems that paleo is picking up a good portion of non-dogmatic, empirically-minded ex-vegetarians.

  22. [...] Csonka, over at Naturally Engineered, just published the results of the first Paleo Community Survey. Over 6,000 people responded! I found it very interesting to see how the rest of the paleo [...]

  23. Reiko says:

    I appreciate the questions asked in the Meta Info category. I find it surprising that most people think that the primal diet can feed a large population. This diet may be natural and healthy, but it is certainly not sustainable when the human population is as large as it is now.