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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 13:02 GMT 14:02 UK
Diet guru Atkins: What is his legacy?
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are said to follow the Atkins diet
Dr Robert Atkins, whose controversial dietary plan has been tried by millions, has died.

His low-carbohydrate, high-protein eating programme became popular in the 1970s, and again in the 1990s, with stars like Jennifer Aniston, Geri Halliwell and Courtney Cox all said to follow the Atkins regime.

But some dieticians condemned the plan for causing kidney problems. Only days ago, 97% of UK state registered dieticians surveyed condemned the Atkins diet as giving "bad dietary advice".

What do you think? Should Dr Atkins be remembered as a good or bad influence on a weight-obsessed society? What is his legacy to the legions of dieters around the world?


The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Americans are always looking for quick fixes and this is one of them. I eat lots of vegetables and fruits and nuts, tofu; I have olive oil with my food and do not eat meat or fish on moral grounds. I drink beer and wine and have been able to maintain my ideal weight for all my life. I don't diet I eat what I like in measured proportions, and I exercise.
Joao, USA

Any diet that advises one to consume only part of the known food items available is by definition absurd. The sensible method of dieting is to consume a wide variety of food, and to limit the portion consumed. If willpower is the problem, that needs to be addressed as well. Perhaps that is where Atkins made a contribution. By total avoidance, the method is similar to AA. Who is going to binge on bacon after all?
Edward, USA

Dr Atkins' diet may work well for the younger dieter but not for the older ones
Hazel, UK
I tied this diet back in the 1970's and thrived on it. However, the drawback was the price of meat and fish, so I could only binge on these protein foods for a short period. 30 years later my weight problem is worse and now I suffer from gout which flares up whenever I consume large quantities of meat. Dr Atkins' diet may work well for the younger dieter but not for the older ones unless they eat tons more green salad and spinach than they do meat.
Hazel, UK

I admire Dr Atkins life work, especially the way he kept his head although he has been target of dirty campaigns of falsifications and slander during many years. Dr Atkins did not give in to bitterness but maintained a civilized and inspired way of writing and debating. This diet really works. Millions of people follow it. Where is the proof of its unhealthiness? Dr Atkins has given many additional years of good life to millions of people. Personally, I am very grateful to him and the whole team.
Heli Santavuori, Finland

A diet crazy generation will pay a price - in the long run - for living on diets such as Atkins, etc. create an imbalance in the body's chemistry, leading to greater physical problems as a person begins to age. People need to suppress their pride with a little common sense eating.
Gerald A. Lush, Canada

I am on the Atkins diet and I have to say I do now show a keen resemblance to Brad Pitt...when he starred in Fight Club.
Chisto, USA

I lost 25 pounds (>14% of my body weight) in 4 months using Atkins diet. And then I could not shed additional pounds in spite of lowering the net caloric intake. I was still 10 pounds short of my goal. I experienced severe constipation and a general lack of energy. My skin colour changed as well. I was seeing a profusion of blemishes on my face and hands. I think eating veggies is important because of the abundance of nutrients. With Atkins diet, one has to take additional nutrients. I personally feel it is the wrong way to go. If elephants and gorillas can satisfy all of their protein need from eating veggies, man can too.
Saleem Javaid,

You'd have to be an idiot to eat yourself into kidney failure. Think of it as natural selection.
James, Toronto

It is a diet based on good solid science, but isn't promoted because if everyone followed it there would be no need to spend billions on diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, tooth problems, wrinkles and the drugs that go with it. Our cave men ancestors ate the same way; they were taller, thinner, more muscular, healthier and lived longer...what more proof do people need?
Hannah, UK

We have become a weight-obsessed society simply because we are over-weight and under-exercised.
David Collins, England

Robert Atkins diet is often misunderstood
S Cunliffe, England
A lower carbohydrate diet based on Atkins principles is the only thing in 6 years that has managed to keep my diabetes under control. Robert Atkins diet is often misunderstood. I know, as a vegetarian, that low carb eating isn't about high saturated fat eating. Hopefully the recent more objective view of the Atkins diet will lead to some long term studies which provide proof of what many people know already - that low carb eating isn't just good for weight loss, but is the healthiest way to eat. I'm only sorry that Robert Atkins hasn't lived to see his theories vindicated once and for all.
S Cunliffe, England

The Atkins diet is just another fad indicative of a self-obsessed and 'me first' society.
John, UK

So sad about Dr Atkins. My husband has lost 27lbs on the Atkins Diet. He is a cynical physician who now swears by this diet. Mind you he has his own modifications!
Veronica Richie, New Zealand

While I write this I'm eating snacks made from wheat. His unfortunate death shows that whatever the diet, we all die.
Richard Hicks, USA

Farewell to Dr. Atkins. I eschewed his diet for many years and never tried it until the most recent studies came out validating it. So I decided to give it a try. I never had much success with any of the low-fat, low calorie, diets but Atkins works for me. It probably wouldn't work for everyone. We are all different and my body responds better to more protein. My best friend can eats carbs all day and not gain a pound.
Grace, Houston, TX, USA

Not an influence on, but a symptom of.
Michael, UK

The Atkins diet is another form of the Stone Age Diet
Mike Hodges, UK
The Atkins diet isn't aimed at everyone! Bread, rice, pasta, potatoes are not natural foods for human beings. The Atkins diet is another form of what was once termed the Stone Age Diet. Protein, fat, green leafed vegetables and a limited amount of fruit. I thrive on this diet!
Mike Hodges, UK

The US and UK diets already have much higher ratios of protein to carbohydrate than most of the rest of the world. Their populations also have much higher proportions of obese people. Lose weight healthily by eating an even higher ratio of protein? I don't think so.
Colin, Scotland

I can only thank Dr Atkins and his team for their conviction in challenging the current medical paradigm of what is considered a healthy diet. Time will prove the Atkins answer is the right way to lose weight and stay happy. The low fat/high carb diet is the true un-healthy diet, which may contribute to diabetes, cancer and weight gain. Question the research base that tells us low fat diets are safe! My thoughts are with his family. RIP.
Phil Price, UK

It is a brilliant kick-start to a new attitude
Eva W, UK
I think it is a brilliant kick-start to a new attitude to food. It was not just the drop in weight: the puffiness disappeared from my face, the constant bloatedness melted away and my mood was better than ever. I am off the strict diet now, and still don't crave the chocolate, bread and biscuits I used to crave so badly.
Eva W, UK

People's immediate reaction when experiencing weight gain, is to cut out a food, rather than look at how active they are being during their day to day routine. They don't recognise the link between weight and activity. As long as this mindset exists, there will always be overweight and obese people in our society, and there will always be diets like this one.
Amanda, London

Dr Atkins book itself identifies whether you are suitable for the diet in the first place - it is not appropriate for everyone. I would strongly recommend reading the book in its entirety before starting the diet. The alternative of being several stone overweight is likely to cost you more than a few years off your expected lifespan anyway.
Rob Sedgwick, UK

Started Atkins two weeks ago and have lost 10lbs and feel GREAT! American Medical Association doesn't dare promote this diet and neither does the dietary association. Why? Because of the millions of dollars spent by lobbying groups paid for by the manufacturers of bread and cereal products. The secret to Atkins is exercise a little and drink the daily requirement of water. Oh, and if the diet is so dangerous, what about the side effects of obesity?
Lin, USA

The Atkins diet is dangerous and foolish. Huge amounts of protein are dangerous to the kidneys. How long before these "stars" go down with kidney stones? Is it worth the pain for that oh-so-skinny look? What's wrong with exercising self-control, and - that other kind of exercise - moving your rear end off the couch and getting out walking, running, swimming..?
Jane Wilson, San Antonio, TX, US/UK citizen

I love it!
Elizabeth Gordon, USA
I have been on the diet for a year. I feel wonderful, my vision has improved substantially, (a pre-diabetic condition was destroying it), I am much less irritable, and of course I no longer have a weight problem. I have a degree in statistics... there are no meaningful studies that indicate the Atkins diet is harmful. Course, there are no meaningful studies that show it's beneficial either. But, I love it! Thank you for asking.
Elizabeth Gordon, USA

It is very effective. I dropped 15 kg in one month. However, it becomes rather disgusting after a week and your body starts crying for carbohydrates. You also feel rather sick because of the amount of ketones released in tough Atkins regime. You can modify it by adjusting the amount of carbs, possibly taking more green veggies. Main thing is to drink a lot of water and replace the vitamins that you lose in this diet. At least multi B and C must be taken as pills. I never noticed any kidney problems.
Istvan Hunanui, Moldova

It doesn't advocate excess fat or protein but it does advocate fresh, wholesome food, free of additives, preservatives and e numbers - there are no extremes. There is a huge industry out there that stands to lose if people go for a diet free from processed, chemical-laden foods. I also imagine the dieticians don't like to be told that what they have been taught at university is open to criticism.

I have lost a stone in weight, I have another 4 stone to go and it is the only diet I have tried were I don't crave the foods I'm not supposed to eat (chocolate, crisps, biscuits). Critics should read his books and think for themselves.
Judith Thompson, UK




SEE ALSO:
Diet guru Atkins dies
17 Apr 03  |  Health
Atkins diet health warning
17 Apr 03  |  Health
Not too late to pick your diet
08 Jan 03  |  UK News


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