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Research Center

Expert Analysis and the Atkins Diet

04/11/2003

Question:

How come whenever I read an expert complaining about the Atkins way of life, they always stick to the 20 grams of carbohydrates figure? Have these experts not read past the first 50 pages of the book? The 20 gram restriction is for 14 days, two weeks, not the rest of your life. How can a layperson take seriously these expert opinions when the experts don`t show any evidence that they have given more than a cursory glance at a press release, no less the material that they claim to be critiquing? There are 4 stages to Dr Atkins way of life, and NEVER have I seen an expert look past week 2. Are there ANY experts who have read any of the books, and can discuss the full plan, or is it dismissed summarily without bothering to adequately research what is being refuted?

Answer:

Popular, unconventional diets, such as the Atkins diet, have not been adequately researched in the past. However, since the low carbohydrate diets are so popular and since the problem of obesity in America continues to increase, there have been several research studies conducted recently to test the effectiveness and safety of the low carbohydrate diet. The results of these studies have been reported at professional meetings and one study`s results were just published this week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Although the short-term effects of the diet seem to be positive, the medical community cannot make diet recommendations based on these studies` results. More research must be conducted on diverse populations, both healthy and those with medical conditions, over a longer period of time. The National Institutes of Health has funded a long-term study to examine low carbohydrate diets, but the results will not be known for a few years. As a researcher in this field, I can tell you that I have read Dr. Atkins` books as well as other popular diet books and professional literature on the topic. As professionals, I certainly hope that other researchers and dietitians who speak about the topic have also reviewed the books and literature.

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Response by:

Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD
Professor of Nursing
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati