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April 9, 2004

Low-down on low-carb dieting

I stumbled across this picture on MSN's homepage today and found it worth of posting here. To me, this brings up an issue of dieting in America. There are so many "miracle diets" being advertized--from pills to patches to milkshakes to the omnipresent Atkins diet, dieting is an American fad that shows no sign of thinning. At least not in the advertising world...

usa sandwich kjk.jpg

Daily, we're inundated with commercials, pop-ups, magazine ads, and more showing sculpted bodies that can supposedly be achieved through some dieting plan or product.

The newest buzzword, "carb," is being connected to the roots of all evil in dieting--fat. Appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts are stripped of their carbs are glorified for their dietary value. Apparently, with the rage about Atkins, dieting "giants" such as Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and even Slim Fast report losses in revenue and membership. Is Atkins here to stay?

Certainly restaurant franchises are eating it up. Subway boasts low-carb subs and salads. T.G.I.Friday's, Blimpie, Ruby Tuesday, and some McDonalds are promoting their low-carb menus to customers in support of their adopted "healthy" eating habits.

"If these chains prove that there is a long-term demand for low-carb products, I wouldn't be surprised if anyone and everyone did it," said David Yanda, senior consultant with restaurant market research firm Technomic Inc., on the topic of catering to low-carb diners.

But is it really healthy?? Well, that depends who you ask.

Dean Ornish M.D. of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association says, "Dr. Atkins advocated substituting simple carbohydrates with high-fat animal protein foods" which include bacon, sausage and butter. "I would love to be able to tell you these are health foods, but they are not. Telling people what they want to believe is part of the reason that the Atkins diet has become so popular."

With risks in anything we do, eating--though minor and typically thoughtless--is surely no exception. Dieters have the reputation of going over-kill, and that's cause for concern, doctors say.

  • The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) warns of increased risk of osteoporosis and even heart disease--the very things Atkins is said to have helped avoid--among other serious health risks.
  • The American Heart Association doesn't recommend high-protein dieting, but rather, a balance of all nutrients for a healthy lifestyle.
  • Other experts warn of kidney problems and diabetes.

    There are pros and cons of any diet, Atkins included. Taking food at its face value and, like the Romans, "all things in moderation," is a good word of advice.

    Atkins officials... say that [it] is here to stay as a lifestyle.

    "I think that the hysteria will settle down, and then that low-carb will be a permanent part of the way people eat," said Matt Wiant, chief marketing officer for Atkins Nutritionals.

  • Posted by KarissaKilgore at April 9, 2004 1:44 PM


    Never fear, this blogger is still here. I responded in my own way on my blog. Take a gander.

    Happy Easter, Karissa if I don't get to talk to you before then. :-D

    Posted by: Amanda at April 10, 2004 10:51 AM

    Karissa, nice job of reporting. I have often said that Atkins is more of a marketing success than a scientific success. You have saved me the trouble of digging up some references.

    Posted by: Paige at April 10, 2004 3:37 PM

    If it's help to someone, then I've done my job! Thanks, Paige :^)

    Posted by: Karissa at April 11, 2004 1:42 PM

    I have a weird issue -- I'm allergic to just about every protein except chicken and pork. I'm totally left out of this whole "big juicy steak" aspect of Atkins, yet somehow, by eating more carbs and less meat (chicken is boring after you've eaten it constantly, and I hate pig products except for bacon, ergo, I don't eat much meat at all) I've actually lost weight! Explain that! ;)

    Posted by: Julie at April 11, 2004 11:20 PM

    Probably the missing fat content and cholesterol that comes dangling from most meats, Julie. That's my best uninformed nutritional guess : )

    Posted by: Karissa at April 12, 2004 7:34 PM

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