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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Eggs v potatoes: The Atkins diet stand-off
This week eggs and potatoes feature in rival campaigns to tempt our taste buds. But their differing fortunes, thanks to changing trends in diets, means that all is not well in the larder.

Eggs and potatoes
Two foodstuffs are vying for our attention with national awareness campaigns this week. One promotion is buoyed by burgeoning sales, thanks in part to a trendy weight-loss plan; the other sets its cap at a nation suddenly shunning starchy foods.

"Oh dear, is it potato week as well?" says a spokeswoman for the British Egg Council. "I guess it is an Atkins showdown."

The people at the British Potato Council, for whom the low-carb diet is something of a bete noir, are also somewhat put out to discover that a key Atkins foodstuff is jostling for the limelight. "Oh no," says a spokeswoman.

Although potato sales in the UK are static, in the US - home of the Atkins movement - they have dropped 10% in the past year. "That's why we're running this campaign now," she adds.

'Twas not always thus. Once the humble spud was favoured by slimmers, but the remarkable rise of the Atkins diet, which is based on limiting carbohydrates in favour of proteins, is definitely down on them.

Potato-growers the only producers anxious to play catch-up in the burgeoning market for low-carb foods.

Omelette and baked potatoes
Which tempts your taste buds?
Long-term Atkins adherents are limited to about half a pint of beer every other night; brewers have responded with low-carb beers to keep their profits plump. The success of Michelob Ultra, launched a year ago, has prompted rival companies to trial their own reduced-carbohydrate lagers.

Tesco is considering whether to launch an Atkins-themed range of foods. Heinz is producing tomato ketchup with 75% less carbohydrate than its traditional sauce, and other low-carb condiments are bound to follow.

American burger chains now sell patties without the bun; British chippies report a surge in customers asking for kebab meat; and fast-food giants such as McDonalds and KFC have rushed to add new Atkins-friendly items to their menus.

So how do eggs and spuds, for so long happy complements to each other in such classics as "egg and chips", square up to each other as rivals?

Eggs
EGGS

British Egg Week includes demos by Howard Helmer, who can rustle up 427 omelettes in 30 minutes - a world record.

There'll also be a crack at a 1,000-strong egg and spoon race - the current record is 650 people.

Celebrity endorsement: Antony Worrall Thompson.

A medium egg contain 76 calories and is high in protein, folate, a full compliment of amino acids, and vitamins A, B2 and B12.

It's a cornerstone of the Atkins diet.

Sales are up 4% this year - an extra three million eggs a week - compared with 1% in recent years. Free-range are especially popular.

Atkins-friendly salads loaded with eggs, chicken and ham have been rushed into sandwich chains.

Potatoes
POTATOES

It's also Bring a Potato to Work week, with giveaways of jacket potatoes and recipe cards to commuters.

A survey found Brits like cheese best on their baked spuds, followed by baked beans and coleslaw.

Celebrity endorsement: Denise van Outen.

A potato the size of an egg contains 34 calories, is low in salt and cholesterol and high in fibre, vitamin C, iron, B6, and potassium.

It's a no-no for Atkins adherents.

Sales are stagnant in the UK and falling in the US, and last week the Atkins diet was blamed for a drop in fish and chip sales.

In July, the council launched a 1m marketing makeover with the slogan "fab not fad" - a pop at Atkins.


Which side are you on? Tell us, using the form below.

A day without chips is a day without sunshine!
Mark Savidge, UK

Eggs Rule! Since ditching the potatoes 2 months ago and taking up the Atkins diet I am 10kg lighter. Carbohydrates, not just potatoes, are generally evil!
Peter Harris, Australia

Get yourself down the gym and work hard then you can eat what you like. I love egg and chips after a trip to the gym.
Amrit Hundal, England

Balance is all. Too many eggs long-term and your arteries will look like the M25 at peak commuting time. Too many spuds and you run the risk of looking as elegant as a naked jacket spud!
Lynn, UK

Eggs on the up now! It wasn't so long ago that even Edwina Currie couldn't temp us with eggs what with the salmonella farce. I will stick with the humble spud, it comes from the ground and not from a chickens... and they are more versatile and they taste better with cheese n bacon. Sunday lunch ain't right without a few roasties 'n' mash. Roast beef egg 'n' gravy just don't cut it.
Dazza, England

There are no sides to take. As someone who lost three stone on Atkins, I can honestly say it's a pleasure to be able to eat potatoes now I'm off it once more, but I haven't stopped eating eggs just because they're no longer a 'key food'!
John, UK

Long live the Spanish omelette (eggs, potato, cheese.. mmmmm).
Chris , England

I'm definitely for the potato, I did the Atkins diet - illness, lethargy and a kidney infection ensued. A jacket potato with a low fat topping is far healthier and balanced than Atkins will ever be.
Jayne, UK

Potatoes are the work of the Devil! Steer clear.
Martin Williams, UK

I tried to do the Atkins diet but I gave up because I can't live without mashed potato. You can keep the bread, pasta and rice but I NEED the potato!
Lindsay, UK

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