Friday, November 10


US Journalists were largely responsible for confusing the populace into thinking diets like Atkins were effective and healthful (and that's ignoring those who were actively prosletyzing for it such as Gary Taubes). They jumped on every study showing any value in any kind of fat and spun it into the ongoing narrative of "It Turns Out Atkins is Right!" even after Atkins died of a, *cough,* slip on the ice in 2003. It wasn't until the company went bankrupt last year that the bloom was off the rose.

But an overarching narrative dies hard, and many news outlets, including, unfortunately, the Huffington Post, trumpeted this recent study as an all-new vindication for "low-carb diets," occasionally referencing Atkins or using the Atkins logo as illustration. But even a cursory glance at the data involved shows this is nonsense: Atkins was denounced by serious nutritionists largely because of his adherence to the notion that saturated fat - the kind of fat found primarily in animal products - had some mysterious weight-shedding power and did not interfere with health. This says quite the opposite: "Women who eat a diet moderately low in carbohydrates, but rich in vegetable fat and vegetable protein, can cut their risk of heart disease by as much as 30 percent compared with just following a low-fat approach..." and "The new findings, published in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, underscore that eating few processed carbohydrates, such as bagels, white bread, cookies, candy and cake, and replacing animal fat with a moderate amount of healthful vegetable oils "can help reduce the risk of heart disease," said Alice H. Lichtenstein..."

The article also points out the study found no significant weight loss, but in fairness to Atkins, this diet plan has almost nothing to do with his - other than the (entirely uncontroversial) notion that donuts, cookies and cake should be consumed in extremely moderate amounts.

So let's review, shall we? Once again, the narrative says: Low-carb, high-animal-fat diets are fine; meanwhile, the data says: Replacing animal fat with vegetable fat gives a health advantage. And which one gets the headline?

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