When Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution was first published, the President of the American College of Nutrition said, “Of all the bizarre diets that have been proposed in the last 50 years, this is the most dangerous to the public if followed for any length of time.”
When the chief health officer for the State of Maryland, was asked “What’s wrong with the Atkins Diet?” He replied “What’s wrong with… taking an overdose of sleeping pills? You are placing your body in jeopardy.” He continued “Although you can lose weight on these nutritionally unsound diets, you do so at the risk of your health and even your life.”
The Chair of Harvard’s nutrition department went on record before a 1973 U.S. Senate Select Committee investigating fad diets: “The Atkins Diet is nonsense… Any book that recommends unlimited amounts of meat, butter, and eggs, as this one does, in my opinion is dangerous. The author who makes the suggestion is guilty of malpractice.”
The Chair of the American Medical Association’s Council on Food and Nutrition testified before the Senate Subcommittee as to why the AMA felt they had to formally publish an official condemnation of the Atkins Diet: “A careful scientific appraisal was carried out by several council and staff members, aided by outside consultants. It became apparent that the [Atkins] diet as recommended poses a serious threat to health.”
The warnings from medical authorities continue to this day. “People need to wake up to the reality,” former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop writes, that the Atkins Diet is “unhealthy and can be dangerous.”
The world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, calls the Atkins Diet “a nightmare of a diet.” The official spokesperson of the American Dietetic Association elaborated: “The Atkins Diet and its ilk–any eating regimen that encourages gorging on bacon, cream and butter while shunning apples, all in the name of weight loss–are a dietitian’s nightmare.” The ADA has been warning Americans about the potential hazards of the Atkins Diet for almost 30 years now. Atkins dismissed such criticism as “dietician talk”. “My English sheepdog,” Atkins once said, “will figure out nutrition before the dieticians do.”
The problem for Atkins (and his sheepdog), though, is that the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious scientific body in the United States, agrees with the AMA and the ADA in opposing the Atkins Diet. So does the American Cancer Society; and the American Heart Association; and the Cleveland Clinic; and Johns Hopkins; and the American Kidney Fund; and the American College of Sports Medicine; and the National Institutes of Health.
In fact there does not seem to be a single major governmental or nonprofit medical, nutrition, or science-based organization in the world that supports the Atkins Diet. As a 2004 medical journal review concluded, the Atkins Diet “runs counter to all the current evidence-based dietary recommendations.”
A 2003 review of Atkins “theories” in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition concluded: “When properly evaluated, the theories and arguments of popular low carbohydrate diet books… rely on poorly controlled, non-peer-reviewed studies, anecdotes and non-science rhetoric. This review illustrates the complexity of nutrition misinformation perpetrated by some popular press diet books. A closer look at the science behind the claims made for [these books] reveals nothing more than a modern twist on an antique food fad.”
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