In May the New England Journal of Medicine published two new studies looking at the Atkins Diet which, oddly enough, received diametrically different spin from different news agencies.
Here’s how the Associated Press covered the new studies,
Atkins Diet Bolstered by Two New Studies
A month after Dr. Robert C. Atkins’ death, his much-ridiculed diet has received its most powerful scientific support yet: Two studies in one of medicine’s most distinguished journals show it really does help people lose weight faster without raising their cholesterol.
But here’s how Reuters covered the exact same story,
Atkins Diet May Be No Better Than Just Cutting Fat
Shunning starchy foods in favor of meat and fat helps obese people shed some weight faster than a standard low-fat diet, but over time there may not be a big difference, researchers said on Wednesday.
In reality, these two studies really did little more than affirm previous research about the Atkins Diet. Can you lose weight on the Atkins Diet? Absolutely, especially in the short term. But in the long term, as with most fad diets, people tend to give up on the diet and/or weight loss tends to stop.
The two studies tracked people on the Atkins Diet for 6 months and 12 months. In the 6 month study, people on the Atkins Diet lost 13 pounds compared to just 4 pounds for people on a low-fat diet. But in the 12 month study, there was no significant difference in total weight loss between the two groups.
On the other hand, while showing that people can lose weight on a high protein diet, this just reinforces the likelihood that what is really going on is simply that people on these diets are simply switching from high calorie high carbohydrate diets to low calorie high protein diets. The Atkins nonsense about needing to cut carbs to burn fat is simply that — nonsense.
The magic formula for losing weight remains the same — increase exercise and reduce calories.
Atkins diet bolstered by two new studies. Associated Press, May 21, 2002.
Atkins diet may be no better than just cutting fat. Reuters, May 21, 2002.