[NYT] Atkins sparks low carb biz boom

Elias Sinderson elias at cse.ucsc.edu
Mon Jan 5 08:33:29 PST 2004

Bill Humphries wrote:

> On Jan 4, 2004, at 5:40 PM, Adam L Beberg wrote:
>> It's amazing just how innovative people can be when it comes to 
>> avoiding self control and moving.
> I'd imagine that avoiding carbs would take some level of self control. 

Which would explain why, statistically, most people fail miserably in 
their attempts to follow *any* dietary regimen. Following a plan that 
someone else has put together for you, no matter how bizarre (e.g. the 
watermelon diet, the cabbage soup diet, the 'eat as much meat as you 
want but no carbs or starches' diet, etc.), is infinitely attractive to 
people who just can't get it together themselves. Note that I'm not 
saying that all people who attempt to follow a program are hopelessly 
lacking in self control, there is clearly a spectrum of personal 
responsibility that people are scattered across, but simply that if 
someone has a hard time doing something it is very easy for them to 
foist the burden on someone/something else - more a comment on human 
nature than anything else. subsequently, when the diet subsequently 
fails it is then equally easy to blame the program, again failing to 
take responsibility for something which is, ultimately, a personal 
issue. In all fairness, I do recognize that there are cases which don't 
support the above, but I believe that they are the minority as opposed 
to the rule.

I've often thought that simply educating people as to proper nutrition 
and exercise would go a long way towards making them healthier - 
knowledge is key. Another year, another fad diet, along with it's 
incomplete information about nutrition, simplified rules, point counting 
schemes, etc. and another wave of failed resolutions to 'really do it 
this time' which end up leaving most people with a lower sense of self 
esteem and greater sense of despair than when they started the damn 
thing. What people really need is to spend some time understanding how 
their bodies work and how what they eat affects them, both mentally and 
physically. Unfortunately very few people get this kind of information 
when they are growing up and end up wondering why they're 'morbidly 
obese' (a terrible, yet increasingly applicable term for much of the US 
population), while they eat shite for lunch most days (can you say 
'double bacon cheeseburger, super size fries and a large *diet* cola'). 
Not to mention what passes for breakfast and dinner in most homes across 
the country. What really makes me sad is seeing little kids who have 
obviously been raised on happy meals and don't know any better...

I guess I was lucky to have developed good eating habits as a child, and 
have difficulty understanding how people can grow up without learning 
this. As for the Atkins diet, there is an increasing body of evidence 
that it is neither nutritionally sound, nor a viable long term solution 
to being healthy and maintaining an ideal body weight [1]. Let's face 
it, you cannot live your life in a state of ketosis. Honestly, what 
people really need is not a short term dietary solution full of 
marketing hype but long term lifestyle change reinforced by a solid 
understanding of nutrition and their own biological reality. Our bodies 
need carbohydrates just as they need protiens, vitamins and minerals. 
Nutritionists and physicians have been saying the same thing for years 
and years to people who want to lose weight, be healthier and live 
longer as a result - eat well balanced meals (perhaps smaller ones) and 
get more regular exercise. It really is just that simple... Doing so 
takes a little self discipline at first but, in the long run, becomes 
habitual and easy.


[1] <http://www.atkinsdietalert.org/consumer.html>

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