The evidence for Atkins

Okay, Dad, you win:

One of the largest studies to date has found that overweight women lost a little more weight on the popular Atkins diet than on three other well-known diet plans….

Christopher Gardner and colleagues at Stanford University in California, US, put 311 overweight women between 20 and 50 years old on either Atkins, or one of three other popular diets:

• Zone, which cuts carbs less severely than Atkins

• LEARN, a low-fat, high-carb diet based on US national guidelines

• Ornish, an extreme low-fat plan

After a year, all the women had lost some weight. The Atkins group lost more on average than the groups on all other diets – 4.7 kilograms (10.3 pounds) versus 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs) for Zone, 2.6 kg (5.7 lbs) for LEARN and 2.2 kg (4.8 lbs) for Ornish.

About 15 years ago, my father and I were arguing over whether his insane habit of eating a fat-filled protein-heavy diet was a better way to lose weight than the low-fat diet I was eating. Since I was quite lean, I thought my father’s position was obviously nuts, although he did manage to lose the weight he wanted to lose.

Obviously, I was wrong.

I do find it interesting that the science community still seems to have it in for the Atkins guy, apparently due to his chutzpah in publicly demonstrating the flaws in the “scientifically superior” low-fat diet. The headline is that the Atkins diet is “marginally” better, whereas you know that if the LEARN diet had proved superior by the same ratio, the headlines would have trumpeted its being “nearly twice as effective as Atkins”.

Of course, exercise is a lot better than any diet.