Defending the Atkins diet

In Defense of Atkins

Blinding blinders and the blind people who insist on wearing them

I almost got into an argument at my gym last week. Nothing serious – just a slightly warmed-up exchange of ideas with a woman who casually commented on the recent news reports that the Atkins diet had been modified to downplay the fat intake.

I’d just read the New York Times article about Atkins, and the reply to the article on the Atkins web site, so I told her that, in fact, the Atkins diet was no different than it ever was.

No, she said – I was wrong. She saw it on TV.

And, I said, no, the TV reports had just picked up the New York Times misinformation and run with it without checking the facts.

“Well,” she said, “my cardiologist wouldn’t let me do Atkins anyway.”

You know I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I pushed it a little further, mentioning that a Duke University study found that subjects using the Atkins plan scored equal or higher marks in all of the heart-health categories when compared to subjects using the American Heart Association’s “Step 1” low-fat diet. The Atkins subjects had not only lost more weight, but also had a much larger increase in HDL cholesterol, and a far greater drop in triclycerides. In addition, neither diet showed a change in LDL cholesterol.

Now you would think that this information would carry some weight, right? But the woman responded by saying, “I know. I read that study.”

Well, she had me there! If she read and (apparently) understood the study, then she already knew that Atkins has not been shown to do any harm to the heart. In fact, just the opposite! Nevertheless, her cardiologist wouldn’t “let her” do Atkins.

I guess for some folks, blinders are a comfortable fit.
To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute
“Atkins Diet Beats Low-Fat Fare” Associated Press, 11/18/02