The Atkins diet website lists hundreds of research articles that supposedly justify his point of view. But, in reality, they don’t.
It features, for instance, “18 independent scientific studies” that have, as they say, “consistently and repeatedly vindicated” the Atkins diet. But, 5 of these 18 studies are just unpublished abstracts (not peer-reviewed). Another 6 are either solely funded by the Atkins foundation or written by co-authors of other studies solely funded by Atkins. And, according to the New England Journal of Medicine (May 2000), this is a conflict of interest, since “the boundaries get blurred” and the sponsor always tends to get the results they want and pay for.
The remainder of studies are also questionable because of either sample size, short term investigation and/or lack of a control group. One, for example, “Effect of 6-Month Adherence to a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet Program,” is prominently featured as a “vindication” of the Atkins diet. But they never mention that participants experienced serious side effects, including constipation, bad breath, headaches, hair loss and increased menstrual bleeding.
Nor do they mention that many scientists believe the study is flawed for two important reasons: 1) There was no control group; and 2) Several of the patients’ cholesterol readings went up during the study, but these increased-cholesterol participants were not included in the final results. Those two issues would be considered “unscientific” flaws in any “scientific” study.
James Hill, Director of the University of Colorado Center for Human Nutrition, Administrator of the National Weight Control Registry and co-author of one of the 18 studies supposedly “vindicating” Atkins, said, “The Atkins diet produces weight loss, as does the grapefruit diet, the rotation diet, and every other fad diet out there. But I haven’t seen any data anywhere saying Atkins is better than these other diets for weight loss.” Atkins, according to Hill, gives “his readers what they want to hear. But what people want to hear is killing them.”
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