Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Atkins Low-Carb Diet Treated Unfairly By Consumer Reports Panel

The June 2007 issue of "Consumer Reports" compares the various diets

Although there is a tremendous amount of evidence coming out of the research community in FAVOR of livin' la vida low-carb as a viable diet for weight loss and health, that isn't stopping the great defenders of the status quo from thumbing their nose at programs like the Atkins diet.

That's exactly what this FOX News story about a new Consumer Reports examination of the most popular diets clearly shows. It was deja vu all over again like I highlighted in 2005 when they proclaimed the Atkins diet as an acceptable "short-term weight loss" program, but then qualifiied it by stating it "might have a negative effect on some dieters' health."

Hoo boy! Gee, I wonder how they feel about it two years later?

With diet books coming out a dime a dozen these days in response to the ever-growing, both figuratively and literally, obesity epidemic, the folks over at Consumer Reports decided to put together another panel of diet and health experts in 2007 to take a look at these new plans as well as the ones most commonly used for weight loss and improving health.

But all you have to do is take one quick look at the criteria for how these nutritionists and other so-called health "experts" determined what is "healthy" (which I describe as subjectively senile) to realize livin' la vida low-carb wasn't gonna stand a snowball's chance in Hell of being shown in a positive light although you and I know how much it has helped millions of us get trim and healthy.

What was their bodacious (and I'd say bogus) criteria?

According to Consumer Reports Senior Project Editor Nancy Metcalf, they took a sample 7-day menu plan taken from their books and web sites for each of the diets examined and matched them up with the 2005 U.S. dietary guidelines from the infamous high-carb, low-fat USDA-recommended Food Pyramid.

Oh, do you mean the same guidelines that say to eat a diet high in carbohydrate because everybody knows your body NEEDS carbs, lower in fat especially that villianous saturated fat, and artificially lower in calories and portion sizes because by golly it's all about "calories in, calories out," right?

Oh brother! Metcalf exclaims the report "is a good consensus on a healthy diet."

Let me tell you something, Ms. Metcalf. Consensus doesn't make it right (just look at "global warming"). It simply means almost everyone agrees on the same conclusions, but nothing else. The preponderance of the evidence over the past few years has shown livin' la vida low-carb is a healthy lifestyle no matter how much against the grain to conventional wisdom it is. That's why it came out on top in the Stanford University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this year.

So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the most famous low-carb diet in the world created by the late great Dr. Robert C. Atkins came in DEAD LAST in this Consumer Reports comparison of the diet.

"Its nutritional profile is far outside dietary guidelines," they concluded.

Well surprise, surprise! What else would you expect when the parameters for measuring the effectiveness of the diet are based on information that is completely irrelevant for people following a low-carbohydrate nutritional approach?

The Consumer Reports panel named the low-calorie, moderate-fat "Volumetrics" diet by Dr. Barbara Rolls as the most effective diet program and Bob Greene's exercise-focused "The Best Life Diet" as the best diet book in the analysis.

Also ranking high on the "best" diets (you might want to hold your nose and get ready for the gag reflex to kick in) include mainstream diet plans such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Slim-Fast.

The middle-of-the-road diets were the generic eDiets, the moderate-carb "The Zone Diet" from Barry Sears, "Eat, Drink, & Weigh Less" by Mollie Katzen and Dr. Walter Willett, "YOU: On a Diet," by Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, and "The Abs Diet" by David Zinczenko and Ted Spiker.

Bringing up the rear with the Atkins diet was Dean Ornish's ultra-low-fat diet, Dr. Arthur Agatston's lower-carb plan "The South Beach Diet," Dr. Connie Guttersen's moderate-carb book "The Sonoma Diet," and Dr. Mark Hyman's smart-carb "Ultrametabolism" book.

The complete side-by-side comparison of the diets will appear in the June 2007 issue of Consumer Reports.

Metcalf justified the findings of the report by hiding behind the claim that she just "let the chips fall where they may." No you didn't, Ms. Metcalf. Rather, you missed a golden opportunity to look at the merits of the various diet plans in a real world setting. Had you tested these diets on real people following them exactly as the author prescribed, then it is my contention you would have seen the actual results trump all of your preconceived notions about what is a "healthy" diet.

Instead, what Ms. Metcalf and those so-called "experts" on the panel looked at the diets through their own skewed rose-colored glasses which made it entirely subjective based on their own individual biases. No science, no objectivity, just pure unadulterated opinion. And that's not good enough for a major magazine that millions will read and, sadly, believe.

One of the Consumer Reports expert panelists (who actually IS an "expert") was a low-carb researcher I saw at the obesity conference in Nashville, Tennessee last week named Dr. Eric Westman from Duke University. I interviewed Dr. Westman for a future episode of my podcast show to complement the previous interview I did with him last year at my blog.

Dr. Westman echoed my concerns about this report.

"When you compare a weight loss diet to a healthy-eating guideline [referring to the Food Pyramid], of course it is going to look bad because it is restricted in calories and, perhaps, in carbohydrates," Dr. Westman remarked. "This is a common point of confusion. If you have diabetes, can you follow the healthy-diet guidelines? No! You are not healthy: You have diabetes and need a different kind of diet."

He's exactly right! When you think of a "diet," most people are referring to a way to lose weight or control a health condition. That's why looking at a low-carbohydrate dietary approach from the standpoint of "healthy-diet guidelines" is an unfair assessment. Yes, the Atkins low-carb diet is healthy, but is generally a starting point for weight loss. It can become your lifetime way to eat, but you start it to shed the pounds.

Furthermore, the extremely arbitrary rankings of these various diets is not scientific at all and they have not been truly tested by long-term studies of any kind, especially these newer diets that supposedly rank higher than Atkins low-carb. Isn't that the primary excuse we constantly hear bantered about regarding low-carb diets? Uh huh, it sure is! So where's that urgent sense of responsibility now, hmmm? Can you say hypocrites? Yep, that's what they are!

All I know is the Atkins diet saved my life and has been my long-term solution to a lifelong struggle with obesity. I am no longer a miserable-in-my-own-skin 400-pound man wallowing in my morbid obesity. Those days are long gone now thank the good Lord.

Livin' la vida low-carb came into my life and swooped me off my feet to completely restore my health. That's something Consumer Reports can NEVER quantify in their silly rankings. My only disappointment is this national report will very likely sway people away from low-carb living when it might just be the answer to their weight and health issues. Sigh.

Metcalf said something quite shocking in light of the overall theme of the rankings of the various diets. She admitted that most diets either work or don't work based on the individual.

"None of these diets, even the highest rated, created a lot of weight loss—10 pounds at best," she contended. "But people shouldn't be disappointed. Small weight losses can have big health effects."

Well, if all of this is true, Ms. Metcalf, then why even create rankings of the diets in the first place? If they are all equally effective or ineffective, then what good purpose is served by listing them in some kind of order from best to worst? Can't we just say they're all excellent options and people should choose the one that is best for them? Well we SHOULD!

I'm gonna say it very clearly for everyone to hear: the Atkins diet is entirely appropriate for those who choose this healthy way of eating for weight loss and improved health. I have cited plenty of controlled studies done by respected scientists to back my claims here at my blog. Just Google 'em and see for yourself!

I realize that livin' la vida low-carb is counterintuitive, but that doesn't make it wrong. If you read the Consumer Reports diet comparison and somehow concluded the Atkins low-carb diet is unhealthy, then let me assure you it is not.

I've lost nearly 200 pounds, dropped 24 inches from my waist, gotten off of three prescription medications, and am more physically active at the age of 35 than I have ever been in my entire life. I'm a walking, talking example of the lifechanging ability of this way of eating. If you ask me, there's no greater proof of the viability of low-carb than that!

If you have any questions about the low-carb lifestyle, then I'm happy to answer them anytime. Please feel free to e-mail me at

Let Nancy Metcalf and the team of editors at Consumer Reports know what you think about their report on diets by clicking here.

5-15-07 UPDATE: Well, I got the following generic response from the Customer Relations department for Consumer Reports:

Dear Mr. Jimmy Moore:

Thanks for taking the time to contact Consumer Reports®. It is always a pleasure to hear from our readers!

We appreciate your taking the time to write to us regarding our report on dieting in the June 2007 issue. Your correspondence has provided us with invaluable feedback on how we're doing. Please be assured that our readers' comments and thoughts help shape the work we do. I will, of course, forward your correspondence regarding the Atkins Diet to the appropriate department(s) for their review and consideration for our future reports.

Thanks again for taking the time to write. Your interest in our work is greatly appreciated.


Jason Jaworski
Senior Customer Relations Representative

As someone who has worked in customer service for a very large American company, I can assure you NOTHING is going to be done about this. They don't care about what we the people think because they wanted the headlines to show that the Atkins diet came in last place.

I consider it a badge of honor that livin' la vida low-carb did so poorly in this report because they used the outdated government dietary guidelines as their source for a "healthy" diet. We already know that diet is whacked, so it's no biggie. :)

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Blogger Science4u1959 said...

May the good Lord save us from the "experts"...

Low-carb counter-intuitive? Maybe, if one doesn't understand anything about metabolism or nutritional science. If one does, any dietary regimen other than low-carb seems counter-intuitive...

You know, if these so-called "experts" would be living in a world where the majority of the population was well-aware of what constitutes a truly healthy diet, like in a "primitive" society, they would be generally recognized for the complete imbeciles they are.

Science used to be about human curiosity, the quest for truth, knowledge and above all objectivity and systematic, open-minded, intelligent, purposeful methodology. It used to be like a candle in the dark.

Sadly, science is in serious trouble, these days, not just from mediocrity, but especially from rusted paradigms, politics, dogmas and vested (economical) interests, but also "progressive" belief systems. If that doesn't change soon, one day we'll all wake up in a world where there will be no real scientists anymore - only subjective, hypocritical, self-righteous consensus peddlers.

5/09/2007 10:12 PM  
Blogger Sparky's Girl said...

Slim-fast? Slim-fast?!? Where you replace two meals a day with a shake? That is a healthy diet? Excuse me, but any diet that tells me to replace meals, which should consist of real food, with their manufactured product is baloney. Not to mention it teaches you nothing about healthy eating. What it does teach is how to rely on their products for the rest of your life if you hope to lose the weight and keep it off.

To quote Charlie Brown, "Good Grief!"

5/10/2007 10:19 AM  

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