The Battle over Atkins' Body
All of the letters relate to two columns I wrote when the news broke that the New York City Medical Examiner had recorded that Atkins was 258 pounds when he died, that he had suffered a heart attack, and had high blood pressure. The richest diet guru in history had died fat. Obviously the Atkins people didn't care much for this, nor did his worshippers.
It's Gotta Be High-Fat or Junk, Take Your Pick
Dear Mr. Fumento:
I just wanted to say that I am one of the millions of people who has [sic] improved my health enormously following the controlled-carb Atkins diet. I was a physical and emotional wreck existing on the "Standard American Diet" (S.A.D.) of high sugar, simple carbs (like white bread) and damaged [Damaged?] fats.
Now, 3 years after losing 50 lbs [sic] (temporary weight loss?), I eat all the healthy proteins, complex carbs and good fats I want and my weight, cholesterol and triglycerides (from 180 to 51) are easily sustained. (Not to mention normalized blood pressure and greatly improved energy).
Dr. Atkins deserves a great deal of credit for helping millions of people live healthier, disease-free lives. I, for one, am not going to start eating junk simply because mainstream [sic] says it's OK.
Yes, I get lots of emails from people like you. But when the studies are done, somehow people like you are never in them. I've also personally met people like you and somehow they're all fat. They swear by Atkins, yet I'm looking at a fat person talking to me and thinking "What's wrong with this picture?" But you've found religion and there's no arguing with that. I also like the dichotomy you set up of essentially "Twinkies versus fatback." The idea of eating a moderate diet high in complex carbohydrates never even occurs to you.
Too Dumb to Know How Dumb He Is
In Mr. Fumento's critique of the Taube [sic] article "What if it's all been a big fat lie?" Mr. Fumento makes the assertion "Although the concept that insulin triggers weight gain has little scientific merit, ......"?
This reminds me of a book written by a feminist in which it was asserted that
there is no scientific evidence that testosterone results in greater muscularity
in men. Another author who is an expert in bodybuilding commented on this idea:
"Try telling that to a professional bodybuilder. He'll laugh in your face."
Professional bodybuilders have learned to use insulin injections to increase
their weight gain. Try telling a professional bodybuilder that insulin doesn't
have an anabolic effect. The reaction will be the same.
Dear Mr. Hugel:
Thank you for the wonderful deconstruction of something that was never said. The entire article was about FAT. References to "weight" were always references to "FAT," as in "weight-loss" books which, believe it or not, do not promise to strip away muscle. Therefore when I mentioned insulin and weight gain I was talking about FAT.
Now I want you to roll up your sleeves oh, sorry, musclemen never wear long sleeves and write a similar discourse on the relationship between using dumbbells and being one.
[Six hundred words omitted, plus an attached article.]
Dear Mr. Hugel:
You only hope that you might make some contribution to the benefit of many.
Yes, I do hope that I might make some contribution to the benefit of many as opposed to becoming stinking rich by taking their money, making them fatter, and plunging them into the pits of despair as they realize that even the best-selling diet book in history STILL doesn't work. As for more dead people on my attack list, I'll bet if they were Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and Pol Pot you wouldn't mind. You don't believe the dead should be insulated from criticism any more than I do.
In USA Today We Trust
Don't you feel even the slightest shame in writing an article claiming Atkins was "morbidly obsese" [sic] when it has become well known that when he entered the hospital he was 195lbs [sic]? His widow released his medical records to USA Today which published an article Wed on it. For you to continue to promulgate this story when you know the truth speaks volumes about your integrity or more specifically, the lack thereof.
Please find enclosed a rebuttal I've written concerning both the 195-pound claim and the USA Today claim. As it happens, the USA Today story ran concurrently with my first piece on the Atkins weight controversy and sadly I cannot count among my abilities that of peering into the future. But no matter, for USA Today did nothing to identify the records in any way other than to use the 195-pound figure and say they came from Mrs. Atkins, a rather suspect individual. As to it being "well-known," the 195-pound assertion first came from the head physician at Atkins Nutritionals. He was not Atkins's physician; he did not treat Atkins. All we have is his word. For you to simply suck up this material without waiting for evidence and without considering that the sources make their livelihoods off Atkins products speaks volumes about your integrity or more specifically the lack thereof.
You can pooh pooh [sic] this all you want, but I am a believer. [Translation:
Faith over science.]
Actually I read the book cover-to-cover twice and tabbed about 50 pages. I don't deal with unverifiable anecdotes sent via email, I write about studies and human physiology. As I noted, and as you ignored, the studies have been saying for decades that there is no physiological advantage to eating a low-carb diet nor do low-carbers in randomized, controlled trials fare well. I tell you that in a comparison of four diets, three-fourths of those on the Atkins regimen couldn't even stick with it for a year and among those who did stay in the study average weight loss was a mere four percent. And you ignore it in favor of anecdotes. But, as you say, you are "a believer." You don't care about the science; you've found religion. And by the way it was not I but rather the American Medical Association that first said way back in 1973 that the theory proffered by Atkins to explain how one could eat 5,000 calories a day (a claim he pulled in later editions) and still lose weight was akin to magic. Don't blame me. Part of my just reward I have already received; by realizing there is no magic out there I got rid of my pot belly and have kept it off for seven years now. The other part is knowing that at the very least on an individual basis I am allowing some people to see the light not to mention their feet.
I'd suggest you get your facts straight next time before you go shooting your mouth off.
Dr. Atkins weighed 195 pounds when he was admitted to the hospital after he fell and struck his head. The weight gain was a result of forced IV liquids given him while he lay in a coma. He was not suffering from a "heart attack" either but from a bacterial infection.
SHAME ON YOU FOR PERPETUATING LIES and lies that were twisted from an illegally obtained medical report at that.
You might also actually READ the material and the studies done on the Atkins Program before you go dismissing it out of hand. Uninformed "journalism" is nothing more than gossip.
and btw, Suzanne Sommers is not a ditz. She only portrayed one 30 years ago on "Three's Company."
It's one to thing to disagree with something, but another thing entirely to invent lies and half-truths just to keep your paycheck coming in.
[Attached was Stuart Trager's counterattack taken from the Atkins website.]
Dear Ms. Michael-Baker:
Has it occurred to you that using as the sole source of your information
an employee of Atkins Nutritionals is not the brightest thing in the world?
What evidence did Trager proffer that the weight gain was from "forced
IV liquids"? None. He was not Atkins' personal physician nor did
he even see him in the hospital.
Your "bacterial infection" was, according to your sole source, Dr. Trager, a virus. A bacterium and a virus are not the same. Does it say something about you that you either cannot tell the difference or didn't bother reading Dr. Trager's statements carefully enough?
If you didn't read my piece, you shouldn't have written your letter. If you did read it, you know that I noted that decades of evidence have shown that low carbing doesn't work and cited a review of 200 studies to that effect. You also know that I cited a Tufts University Study showing that virtually nobody could stick with the diet over 12 months and that those who did lost a paltry average of four pounds. Is this not evidence that I have "READ" the studies. I also evaluated a huge number of others in previous articles, all available on my website and all with links to the studies themselves. Seems like research to me.
Dr. Trager makes no bones that he is paid directly by Atkins Nutritionals, yet you take his word as gospel. Conversely you accuse me of criticizing the Atkins diet for pay while providing not the least evidence. As it happens, I received no payment of any kind to write the piece. I have been writing on the obesity epidemic since 1997 when I actually barely mentioned low-carbing but rather attacked the fad at that time, which was high carb and low fat.
Finally, regarding Miss Somers, I'll leave her IQ within the realm of opinion. It remains that she didn't just play a ditz but got a second career pushing a ditz device and ditz diet advice even as she herself benefited from liposuction. Of course, at the time her latest book WAS called "Eat, Cheat, and Lose Weight." She certainly was no hypocrite when it came to that second word.
My Diatribe, and His Diet Tribe
Your diatribe against Atkins shows how desperate the AMA and its cohorts are to stop the inevitable collapse of your Low Fat Diet Fad. I was a victim of your diet for 7 years, and have thrived on Atkins for almost 8 years.
[Unverifiable personal anecdote omitted.]
How many more people do you intend to kill before you check out the facts?
Rest assured that our local paper will get the full story when I tell them about
Dear Mr. Kuhn:
The closest association I have with the AMA is when I call their journal to ask for an article reprint. As to "my" LOW FAT DIET FAD, I have no diet whatsoever. But I did write a book in 1997, which so far as I know was the first to criticize that fad. I said there was absolutely no evidence that going down to the government's recommended 30 percent of calories from fat could help people lose weight, much less the 10 percent that some people were recommending. Among the low-fat gurus I criticized were Dean Ornish, Martin Katahn, and the thankfully-vanished Susan Powter. But now we're seeing an even greater hysteria with the low-carb fad, so it's that which I am now criticizing because it has no more science or sense behind it than the previous one or the next one, for that matter.
How many more people do you intend to kill before you check out my book?
So just how much stuff that's not directly pertinent to the subject am I supposed to pack into a 750-word column? Or should the burden be on you to take a few seconds to Google my name and something like "low-fat" to see what the cat drags in before attacking me? Or does the word "search engine" mean anything to you at all? How about this term "Amazon.com."? Pop in my name and within seconds you would have the names of all my books. None of this ever occurred to you, but you're an expert on nutritional studies. Moreover, had you done so simple a search you would have seen my critiques of the very reports you mention, that the only study of the Atkins diet that really claims to support the diet was paid for by the Atkins Foundation (Westman, et al.) It was not published and probably never will be because it's junk.
I really do tire of hearing Atkins acolytes say there's nothing wrong with the diet; the problem is the dieter. What a wonderful way to shift the blame. But Atkins himself blathered incessantly about how easy his diet was to stick to. He lied. A diet that cannot be maintained is worthless.
Finally, you call me the flat-earther yet the Atkins diet is over 130 years old. That places you somewhere during the Reconstruction Era. Tell me, how did you feel about the impeachment of Andrew Johnson? Every few decades somebody dusts off the low-carb diet and puts a new name on it, as indeed Agatston has done to Atkins now with his South Beach Diet. But it's all the same old snake oil sold to people who want something for nothing, just as you refuse to even use the Internet except for email and maybe one of those chat rooms where everybody writes in Klingon.
[You never bother to push a few keys on your keyboard and make a mouse click or two and you blame me.]
2) You make blatantly false statements about my ability to use the Internet.
[See response to number one. They're pretty blatantly true.]
3) You will not admit that regardless of the recommended diet or lifestyle change, the majority of people will fail to stick with the program on a long-term basis. Again, I know far more people who have stuck with Atkins than with any other diet, largely because they feel better and aren't starving.
[Nowhere have I ever said or written, despite having written a massive amount on the subject, that there is any diet that most people with stick with on a long-term basis. That is why I offered no diet in Fat of the Land, but rather lots of scientific information to allow the reader to make his own plans. And since you are an Atkins apostle, it only makes sense that you know lots of other Atkins apostles but I'm afraid that's not what's called scientific sampling. We have comparison data from different studies and they show Atkins to be among the worst though it would probably rate higher than the jelly bean diet.]
4) You will not admit that I am a living testimony to the success of the diet. How do you explain away the change in my cholesterol picture, the dramatic drop in my blood pressure, the weight loss and the current state of my cardiovascular system? I am a perfectly controlled study, as the only element in my lifestyle that changed was my diet. My family life, my home, my work, my income, my exercise program and the like remained the same.
[No, because I'm not stupid enough to simply take your word for it. What proof have you to offer me? If I said I had a tongue longer than Kiss singer Gene Simmons would you believe it just because I typed it up? Actually, maybe you would.]
5) I don't care a hoot if low-carb diets have been around for 130 years. The earth has been round for just a bit longer than that, and regardless of what flat-earth proponents thought over the ages, their views did not change the underlying truth. Proper science is consistent and searches for truth, and is not afraid to make a paradigm shift in its quest for real knowledge. I was skeptical about Atkins at the outset but not so blinded by preconceived notions as to write his ideas off without at least experimenting. I am a far better man in many ways as a result.
[Obviously you don't care, nor do you care that they have failed for 130 years. Neither did I write off Atkins without seeing the studies. But I figured after the first few hundred, enough was enough. And if you're a far better man now than formerly, I'd hate to think of what you use to be like.]
To be brief, [Alas, not brief enough] the Atkins diet works for me and many other people afflicted with problems metabolizing carbohydrates. Your relentless persecution of Atkins is a major disservice to everyone, and in the end, will probably lead to your own downfall (look no further than what the Pharisees did to Christ if you need an example). I am willing to wager than Atkins has sold far more books than you, largely because he was not an intellectual snob. Dr. Atkins will be remembered far longer than Dr. Fumento, and certainly be much more revered. [True enough; I don't think I'll be compared to Christ.] If you want to make disciples, get off your high horse and make your case with reason and calm. Diatribe, persecution and an inflated ego will get you nowhere.
To be brief, I live in an area (the D.C. Beltway) where liars always win and cheaters never lose. My "downfall," if any, will have been refusing to join them and outside-the-beltway sellouts like Atkins defenders Gary Taubes and Duke's Dr. Mark Westin. Obviously it never occurred to you just maybe I don't want disciples. Fans, yes. Devotees, yes. And it certainly would be nice to have a patron or even two. But I'm a helper, with no pretense to being a savior. Your mention of the term "disciples"you're your invoking the term "persecution" and invoking Christ and the Pharisees is a truly lovely way of demonstrating again that to so many Atkins isn't a diet book writer but rather a religious figure for simpletons just like Jim Jones was. So go ahead and drink your low-carb Kool-Aid Brother Kuhn, but you're not fooling anybody but yourself.
If it's on the Atkins Website, It Must Be True
Sir: I read with interest your article in the Mobile Register 2/13/04. I can certainly understand your concerns with the fad diets of the American people. My observations underscore your concerns for the manner in which both the American people and media are constantly racing from one hyped up scenario to another. I do, however, wish to take issue with you on a couple of issues. First, verifying the facts related to Dr. Atkins' weight at the time of his death and the underlying causes would have been a very simple matter to have taken care of before going to press. Second, as I have come to learn over the last 3+ years, the Atkins approach to eating is not a "fad diet" to be embraced as a quick fix measure. It is, instead, a way of eating for life, which can be done quite successfully with or without the added conveniences of the current craze. Thank you for your time.
Click to see the page:
Dear Mr. Allred:
I'm sorry, but I don't see how a verification of the facts would be accomplished by reading a statement about Atkins' weight from something posted on the Atkins website by somebody whose salary is paid by the Atkins people who later admitted he never even saw the late doctor in the hospital. You can't verify facts with propaganda. As for it being "a way of eating for life, which can be done quite successfully with or without the added conveniences of the current craze," why then do the only two 12-month studies of the diet show it to be a failure? Or do you consider a success a study drop-out rate of 50 percent and a diet drop-out rate of 75 percent with a mean weight loss of merely 3.9 percent among those who stayed in the study? Unless you only plan to live for a few months, it's not a "way of life" nor is it successful.
Message from a Mind Reader
Dear Mr. Fumento,
I was reading your article today in the NYPost, "Atkins' Never-Ending Low-Carb Food Chase". I am not a believer or [sic] dis-believer [sic] in Dr. Atkins ... the Science [sic] community can hash that out. It is farely [sic] easy to see from pictures just prior to his death that he was not a 258 pound person. You may want to investigate this before portraying him as a 'morbidly obese person'.
The rest of your article is worthy of debate but a fallacy may infect your argument by wrongly ridiculing Dr. Atkins at the beginning in order to further your case. Dr. Atkins believed in his diet there is no need to debase a dead man who is no longer able to defend himself.
Dear Mr. Cavallo:
Actually neither you nor I know when the pictures and video presented as being "just prior" to Atkins' death were taken. You have to accept the word of the Atkins Nutritionals spin machine at that. Considering their record, that's something I'm not willing to do. Almost every picture of him shows nothing below the shoulders, and he tends to lean into the camera and wear overly large suit jackets. These are all the things a fat person would do to minimize their weight for the camera. As you must know, everybody carries their weight differently. We've all seen people with round faces who are quite slim, and people with slender faces but huge pot bellies. In the least, Atkins had jowls. Also, to say that Atkins believed in his diet is to say that you can read minds. If you have that ability, I suggest you stop emailing writers and instead go down to Atlantic City and make a mint at the poker tables. Or perhaps you could go to work for the CIA and tell us where bin Laden is hiding. Finally, I don't believe it is wrong to speak ill of the dead any more than you do. You're just picking and choosing. Would you say that about a dead dictator? No, Atkins wasn't a dictator; but either your rule applies or it doesn't. If we can't say the Atkins diet is bad because he's dead, we can't say that anti-semitism is bad because, after all, Hitler is dead. Moreover, it's not Atkins that's at stake here because as you say he IS dead. It's Atkins the icon and whether the most famous diet guru of all time was fat when he died. You see, his own personal physician has now come out and admitted "He was a little bit fat" and his BMI even at the weight his own people admit to was over a BMI of 26, with anything over 25 being overweight.
Now hurry on down to CIA headquarters; they're waiting for you.
Well a class in Logic [sic] may have helped your reply back to me. Making comparisons in debate at your magnitude (i.e. Hitler to Atkins) is a fallacy. However it is good for inflaming passion in your readers looking for a way to diminish Dr. Atkins. Also, my response did not say you could not speak in a diminishing way about the dead(especially toward Hitler) but that in refuting the Atkins diet, you would have done better to argue on specific scientific evidence only. [That's an interesting interpretation of "There is no need to debase a dead man who is no longer able to defend himself."]
By sort of ridiculing his weight (which I argued may have been suspect due to his hospital care), you again add fallacy to what could be a very logical and worthy debate. But then you have readers to attract, don't you?
As for reading minds no, not a specialty of mine. My assumptions on his believing in his work would be erroneous conjecture I suppose ... but a 30 year effort on his part lead to this statement. Your request that I work for the CIA or make money at gaming tables silly.
Now get back to the typewriter ess than logical [sic] readers await.
Using an extreme example to explain the foolishness of a statement is not illogical, unless you mean "illogical" in the sense that most people do these days which is "something I disagree with." After all, Hitler is no longer around to defend himself. Neither are Stalin or Pol Pot. Therefore, you must not say anything bad about them or their policies. The difference is that Atkins left behind a huge organization to defend his diet. I don't think you can say that about the other three men. And they have indeed rushed to do so, making idiots of themselves and exposing the emptiness of their position at the same time. When your best argument against an M.E. report is that it was given to the press by a nasty group, you've got problems. That goes likewise for your assuming that he must actually believe in a diet he promoted for 30 years when for that entire period it was making him literally fat and wealthy.
[The reference is to the relationship between PETA and the group that released the Atkins ME report to the media.]
[He begins by quoting me.] "So it's not entirely surprising to hear that the most successful diet guru in history, Dr. Robert Atkins, weighed 258 pounds at his death. At six feet tall that would make him not just overweight, not just obese, but rather what's called 'morbidly obese.' He had also suffered a heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension."
Does this mean that every linebacker and defensive end in college and pro football is "morbidly obese"? They are if you apply your logic in the above statement! You skew your facts to meet your ultra-liberal position the man was 190 pounds at the time he fell on the ice! Why aren't you reporting this fact? I think that if you rely on government statistics to base judgments, you will forever be penning lies! There's nothing wrong with a diet of protein, carbohydrates and fats as long as the portions are small and a person exercises.
Dear Mr. Rhodes:
Does this mean you believe that Atkins' physique belongs in the same category as that of a linebacker or defensive end? Apparently, so. Funny, I didn't think there were too many football players in their seventies hawking diet books, but then I don't watch sports very much. I also fail to comprehend how proffering scientific evidence that a low-carb diet doesn't work is a political position whether liberal, conservative or ultra-liberal but again it displays your towering mental capabilities. That I'm widely known as a conservative writer (though I prefer to be considered a writer who happens to be conservative) is something you cleverly see through. Indeed, I've even attacked PETA in print, with the articles posted to my website. But you see through that, too, don't you my clever friend? And you know that only a fool would believe government statistics, but you have no problem believing figures tossed at you by a profit-making corporation such as Atkins Nutritionals which stands to lose a fortune if people realize that "daddy" was a total fraud who couldn't even keep his own weight in line. Finally, your last line contradicts the entire rest of your letter in that it actually makes sense. Alas, it is also the opposite of what Atkins preached and what his organization continues to preach. Indeed, in the only edition of his book where he actually discussed caloric intake in numbers Atkins claimed that by low-carbing you could eat 5,000 calories a day and still lose weight. It takes one hell of a lot of "small portions" to eat more than twice what the average person should be consuming a day.
How much did Dr. Atkins weigh when he was weighed at the hospital after he fell? What is the difference between that weight and the weight reported by the Medical Examiner?
You're smart--wouldn't that be relevant? Surely you are at least curious yourself,
whether you would be willing to print that number aside.
Make sense to you??
There is a diet revolution going on, Michael open your mind a bit more, sez this reader.
Do you mean as in "Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution"? That's original. Or if you're speaking generally, then if there were a revolution I would compare it to the Bolshevik one of 1917 or perhaps the French Revolution. Like low-carbing, those caused a lot of casualties too. I've dealt with the "How much did he really weigh" issue in my latest column.
But if you really want to believe he was just fat as opposed to really fat, that's fine. Either way, "Atkins" didn't even work for Atkins. From a scientific perspective, a body denied carbohydrates will burn whatever else it gets first for energy with the remainder stored as fat. If you only need, say, 1600 calories a day and you're eating 2000 then 400 a day are going to fat. It matters not in the least whether those calories are from carbohydrates, protein, fat, or alcohol. What does matter is telling people they can eat far more food if they simply reduce their carbohydrates. Then calorie intake goes up and the body accumulates more fat. How telling an already grossly-bloated population that it should eat even MORE calories is "revolutionary" is difficult to comprehend.
A Letter from Senore Silver
Dear Mr. Argento,
Perhaps your name should be Arrogento. Or Egecentro. You figure if it's the first piece on Atkins you've seen by me, it must be the only one. That I might have written pieces you never saw hasn't occurred to you, even to a point of Googling "Fumento" and "Atkins" to check. In fact, what was by far my most detailed article on him was while he was alive. I first started going after diet scams in a book written six years before he died. But you didn't see them, ergo they don't exist. Among real nutritionists, as opposed to Atkins advocates, there isn't the least doubt as to the cause of the type 2 diabetes epidemic obesity. Obesity is caused by taking in more calories than you burn calories from any source of any type. And no, not everybody gets bored of their diets. By allowing people to eat absolutely anything they want so long as they do it in moderation and get some exercise, you can eliminate the boredom factor. But low-carb diets by definition restrict consumption of the main macronutrient we consume. That's the cause of the boredom and the nearly 100 percent dropout rate. I think allowing people the widest variety of food is just a bit more realistic than "mind training." All Atkins was ever about was grabbing as much as he could of the meaning of your last name in Italian - silver. Only unlike Judas, he wouldn't settle for only 30 pieces.
you [sic] stay on your side of the fence....I'll stay on mine. I will do a little more research and forward your statements on to a [sic] ortho-molecular [sic] chemist who happens to believe that carbs are the problem. Not caring wether [sic] you have written before about Atkins doesn't mean I didn't consider it. I'll read what you have had to say and go about my merry way.
Next, I'll search for the true definition and cause of diabetes. No, I won't take your word for it...or the medical establishment.
Last year, the ADA admitted that their "food pyramid" should be turned upside down to go along with studies that show proper diet debunking the last 40 years. But of course...they won't actually change the pyramid...just admit it's wrong...low key and not upset the establishment.
That is a fact.....and one of concern. No?
As for diet scams....prove it. I am a believer in Gary Heavin's Phase III. You tell me what you think...then I'll show you the studies to prove it.
Silver makes the world go 'round. Not to mention gold.
It figures that you would put your faith in somebody involved in quack medicine, name orthomolecular therapy. Real medicine just doesn't provide you with the "proper" answers any more than it did you god Atkins. And I'm certainly glad we'll have you searching for the cause of diabetes, notwithstanding that so many people are so disillusioned as to think it's been found. This is in reference to type 2, insofar as the cause of type 1 is still something of a mystery as are all autoimmune illnesses. It's not the ADA's food pyramid, it's the USDAs. And far be it from me to impugn your obvious integrity, but for life of me even though I read all the latest material on nutrition I just can't remember the ADA disavowing the food pyramid. So do be a good sport and find a reference to what you're talking about on the Web and send it to me.
As for diet scams, I have proved it. I devoted a large section of my obesity book to such scams and numerous articles since then. I cite real studies when I do so. And as for your Gary Heavin, the exercise guru claims on the flap of his book that readers can "in thirty minutes, three times a week, and without a restrictive diet . . . take their weight off and keep it off for good. That may be true, but only if you have a few pounds to lose. Ninety minutes of extremely vigorous exercise will at best burn about 750 calories. But a truly obese person can be eating 1,500 more calories per day than he or she requires. Only through magic could 750 calories a week compensate for an excess 1,500 a day. You stick with your magic; I'll stay with physiology.
I am an owner of two CURVES franchises [tie-ins to Heavin's publication] and watch what you call "magic" happen every day. I have met and work with those who have had the "magic" happen to them. Our goal is to control insulin levels of women (most of them carb addicts) as are most people. And by maitaining [sic] a low carb diet...that can be accomplished.
As for the food pyramids.....
[226 words omitted; he's putting me to sleep.]
Dear Mr. Argento:
Well, now we're getting somewhere as we establish that you are indeed making argento from your B.S. You may know squat about nutrition and exercise, but by golly you're a first-class alchemist. Too bad the only curves coming from CURVES are rotund bellies and thunder thighs. And thanks for the citation about the "upside-down" food pyramid. Rarely does somebody hand me such a nice piece of rope with which they can be hung. Your citation makes no reference to the APA at all; rather, it's from Harvard where Walter Willett and his colleagues have long been critical of the pyramid. Indeed, I have long shared some of those criticisms. But as the article you cite shows, they do NOT call for turning said pyramid upside down. It still has many types of fats right at the top just like the USDA one, and it has grains towards the base as does the USDA one. Only Harvard's distinguishes between types of fats and is more clear that the grains consumed should be whole meal.
In any event, you're really becoming quite a bore and I feel I must move on. Other greedy would-be magicians deserve responses too.
[I think I got his goat. Here was his final message – though probably only so because I didn't respond.]
"Too bad the only curves coming from CURVES are rotund bellies and thunder thighs."
That comment I'll save as my motivator...you ignorant ass. I'll be sure that I make your email address and comment available to the ladies of CURVES...all 3 plus million. Hopefully, they will find the time to flood your email and avoid your pontificating literature.
I was right when I said you come riding in high and mighty....except what you ride is an ass. You continue your road...and I'll continue mine. I feel much better about the road I travel....than the one you travel.
If You Can't Trust Mrs. Atkins, Whom Can You Trust?
First I have to say I found your article kind of interesting, interesting to the point of "where did you get [sic] your research"?, and why are you bashing the deceased Dr. Robert C. Atkins?
Veronica Atkins and Stuart Trager, MD, have come forward to show that Dr. Atkins
[sic] weight at the time of his death was 195 lbs [sic], and during his 9-day
coma, the medicines he was administered cause [sic] him to gain weight to 258
Dear Ms. Schor:
Unlike most columnists, I try to be as detailed as possible (without using
up too many of my allotted words) in giving my sources. Therefore when I referred
to a Tufts University study, that's a pretty good indicator as to where I got
my research. But then if you go to my website, you can see I use hyperlinks
to provide far more information, including a direct link to that Tufts study.
In any event, I don't "get" my research I find it, and thence I get
I find it amazing that people like you consider Mrs. Atkins and Dr. Trager to be disinterested parties. Mrs. Atkins gets the royalties off every book sold and Trager is a full-time employee of Atkins Nutritionals. As I showed in a follow-up column, their claim that he only gained the weight while comatose is completely without substantiation. The one document they provided to "prove" it proved nothing. Moreover, they knew it proved nothing. That makes them just a wee bit dishonest, doesn't it?
Finally, I read Atkins' book twice and have seen enough studies on low-carb diets to know they are junk. I would not, therefore, go on one. In any case, unlike the late fat doc, I don't need to lose weight.
Those Conniving Wheat Farmers
Now, you have the right to be skeptical about it and that's fine. But for you to try and smear Dr. Atkins is not fine. I don't care if he made a trillion dollars off this; if it is working for people why not compliment them and encourage them to keep up the good work. If a year from now her health fails I will be the first to write you back, but from what I have read on the subject this is a natural process; she is teaching her body to use the calories efficiently and not to store energy she doesn't need.
At least people are trying to eat wiser and I compliment them on that. Oh by the way it's low carb not no carb so the wheat farmers that are financing you don't need to worry!!!!! Since [sic] of humor please.
Dear Mr. Cagle:
Ultimately anyone who is overweight, even those rare few who actually have slightly slower metabolisms than average, is in that condition for exactly the same reason: too many calories coming in compared to those going out. What you seem to be saying is that within this framework there are many reasons as to why individuals have this caloric imbalance and there different regimens to correct it. I agree. But low carb diets in general are not to be recommended, despite your wife's alleged temporary success. We have a mass of statistical data on low carb diets and it all shows that, indeed, you do immediately lose a lot of weight with them and often can keep it off for six months. After that it almost invariably comes back. There have only been two 12-month studies of Atkins and both showed just that. What you're also missing is that the Atkins message is that you can pig out so long as it's low-carb pigging out. Thus Atkins Nutritionals sells $3.00 candy bars oh, excuse me, Atkins Advantage Bars that are no different than ordinary candy bars except for the price and the type of sugar. Instead of glucose, sucrose, or fructose they use another caloric sweetener that indeed has just as many calories as the variety replaced.
To the extent their budget permits, people will eat more of these than they would the higher-carb candy bars. We saw the same thing with the low-fat fad, in which people who would ordinarily eat one or two regular Oreos would eat a whole box of Snackwells sandwich cookies even though both types of cookies had the same number of calories. The result then and now is added calories and added weight. Pointing this out is not smearing. Smearing is pooh-poohing the science I present in favor of saying without evidence, which you cannot have since it isn't true, that I'm in the pay of wheat farmers. Smearing is what the Atkins people are doing right now, when they say it doesn't matter what the medical examiner's report says, all that matters is that the group that released it is full of flakes and nuts. You don't wear hypocrisy well, but then few of us do.
Ultimately, people are not trying to eat more wisely. They're just trying to eat more. Period. The Atkins plan tells them they can do that and still lose weight by simply limiting the intake of a certain macronutrient. Like the low-fat gurus before them, they're lying and they're using people's natural weaknesses to make money for themselves even as the make an already horrific obesity epidemic even worse.
Atkins and the Air National Guard
BMI is a really bad indicator of Obesity [sic].
I am 6' 4". An honest assessment by myself and my wife is that I would be pretty much ideal at 220 lbs. Type that into your calculator, and you suddenly get numbers that would put me in the OBESE category according to you. At 270, I am heavy. I would much rather be 220, but I am still not obese from an appearance point of view. I will admit to being overweight and to the fact that I need to exercise more and eat less (although I personally think I just need to exercise a lot more). Hearing you refer to a man 6 ft [sic] tall and 195 as obese makes you look petty and ignorant.
All attempts to measure Body [sic] Fat [sic] through proxies like BMI have failures when applied to taller people. In the navy [sic], you have round, visibly obese Master Chiefs walking around who fall into the Normal [sic] range and tall guys with thin necks who are visibly "normal" who are on report for being overweight.
Atkin's [sic] diet may be a folly, but you can attack it with something more relevant than BMI. Using BMI is like attacking Bush about his Alabama National Guard duty. It doesn't mean anything.
Whatever criticisms can be made of BMI, by definition, a calculation that takes into account only height and weight can hardly be attacked on the basis that it doesn't take into account height. In any case, six feet is just a little above average, but hardly extraordinary. A proper criticism might be that BMI doesn't take into account extreme muscle mass, but nobody pretends Atkins was an athlete. As the National Institute of Health also admits, BMI doesn't take into account age. Older people, it says, tend to be fatter than their BMI indicates. That does apply to Atkins. I also didn't say Atkins was obese based on a weight of 195. That would simply put him the in the overweight category. The obesity statement was based on the M.E. report putting him at 258. But choose whichever you want, this man with access to the best food, personal trainers, home gyms, and one hell of a motivation to be thin was nonetheless fat. But you're right, what that has to do with Bush's National Guard duty I'll never know.
most definitely can be attacked based on that precise fact. It was designed
by a numerologist. The problem with BMI is that it doesn't mean anything.
My friend is 6 ft [sic] tall. He weighs 150. The man's rib cage is smaller
than mine by a significant amount. By skeletal size alone we are going
to differ in weight.
I gave you the data and the NIH info on age and its effect on BMI. If you
choose to ignore it, I'll live. And nobody but nobody can have a 36 BMI without
being extremely fat. I lift weights three times a week and have a 42-inch chest
whereas I previously had a 38-inch one as an adult. I also do lots of aerobic
exercise. I have a scale that measures fat content with an electrical pulse
and it shows I'm very much in the athletic range. Yet I'm barely above a 25
myself. When people talk about linebackers having BMIs well above 25, what they
ignore is that a lot of linebackers don't just have big muscles they have big
bellies. Remember William "The Refrigerator" Perry, the running back
for the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles? The nickname came from his appetite
and belly size, not from having a low body temperature. Also, do you know what
a numerologist even is? It's a mystic, somebody who thinks numbers are endowed
with magical powers. I don't think NIH employs them.
Atkins; You're [sic] Obsession!?
Hi, i [sic] once emailed you after reading your column on dr. [sic] atkins [sic] and his "diet" [Why the quotes?] ...at the time, i [sic] thought you seemed to be way too obsessed about this man, and i [sic] asked you if he had done anything to you which could help explain your rather childish and often personal attack on this man....to no great surprise, you did not respond - maybe it was the excessive amount of email you get...in any event, i [sic] also explained that i [sic] had made some dietray [sic] changes in my life after reading dr, [sic] atkins [sic] books, and other issue...[sic] you may recall that i [sic] told you about the dietary changes i [sic] made in my life after i [sic] read atkins [sic] book as well taking [sic] in other books ont [sic] eh [sic] subject asd [sic] well...what i [sic] concluded is that dr. [sic] atkins [sic] made a lot of sense, and that the traditional models of nutrion [sic] were simply way off base....as such, i [sic] adopted a modified approach, and eliminated all "bad" carbs from my diet...today, i [sic] eat a good amount of protein, and good carbs and i [sic] find that i [sic] am much healthier...indeed, my cardio doc confirms the results....in sum, i [sic] just wanted to say that you should move on....the "low-carb" craxe [sic] does not make one fat...lack of discipline and an application of extremism in diet approaches are the culprets [sic] of a fat society...and, oh yes, did i [sic] mention that lack exercise is also at fault....please move on, for your obsession mutes your credibility and casts you as a long-lost orphan shunned by dr. [sic] atkins [sic] himself...please grow up, and write about moderation and the good points of a sound nurtritional [sic] plan... [sic]
john edwards [omitted], esq.
Dear Mr. Edwards:
For the life of me I can't imagine why I didn't think your last letter worthy of response. And please, please don't tell me you're an actual attorney although most lawyers long ago (me included) dropped the pretentious "esq." from our names long ago.
If I'm obsessed with Atkins, it would be hard to explain why I wrote a fairly large book all about obesity with a large section on diet scams and quacks and yet devoted only one sentence to Atkins. What's changed is that was back in 1997 when the low-fat craze was going on. Now that everybody is obsessed with low-carbs, I've turned my guns to that. Fact is I recently did a column critical of the South Beach Diet as well, which as Mrs. Atkins has noted is "a copy" of the Atkins diet.
You talk about confirming the validity of the Atkins diets through "books." By that, I trust you mean other low-carb diet books perhaps even the South Beach one. For my part, I'll stick to the scientific literature thank you. You won't confirm the validity of Atkins with that.
You rightly note the importance of exercise, and indeed my book devoted a whole chapter to it. So why doesn't it concern you that Atkins utterly ignored it in his books and Atkins Nutritionals also ignores it. The reason is that Atkins was all about telling people what they wanted to hear, and they don't want to hear that sustained weight loss is virtually impossible without regular exercise. You condemn extremism in diets without acknowledging that extremism is what Atkins promotes, essentially eliminating the largest part of our diets. His appeal is that you can stuff your face from morning till bedtime and lose weight, so long as you keep the carbs low. It didn't work for him and it doesn't work for others. But again, it's what so many people don't want to hear.
Finally, I didn't have to "grow up" to write "about moderation and the good points of a sound nutritional plan. The very reason I'm so anti-low carb is because it represents anything but a sound nutritional plan. My book repeatedly emphasized the importance and moderation and in these pieces of mine, readily available on the web at:
I wrote, "The only weight-control regimens that work for life require both eating in moderation and exercise." And in a 1997 interview at www.fumento.com/salon.html, I declared, "Look, we have a lot of trouble in this country with a notion called moderation. Nobody wants to say, look, here is an Oreo cookie. This Oreo cookie has lots of fat, lots of calories, so I better only eat one and enjoy every bite. No. Or they buy a packet of Snackwells "fat-free" cookies and eat all 12. Since these Snackwells may each contain two-thirds the calories of one Oreo, they end up with a lot more calories, and end up fatter than ever." Just change the word "Snackwells" to "Atkins Advantage Bar," and you'll see that nothing has changed. If I'm obsessed, it's with getting the truth out on something that's harming two-thirds of all Americans. I can think of worse obsessions to have.
Thank you for your response....and, oh yes, i [sic] am an attorny [sic], and oh yes, i [sic] am not one of those doctor types that feels compelled to need to convey such title [sic] on one's license plate...the fact remains i [sic] always identify myself as such becauce [sic] i [sic] want people to know how to contact me when i [sic] offer an opinion as opposed to hiding behind some anonymous moniker...as for your response, let me address it point by point...
No, let me not. And I really see your point about nobody knowing how to contact you if you don't put that fatuous "esq." after your name . . .
Short but Bitter
Call yourself a scientist? Your piece is reactionary and fundamentally flawed!
Dear Mr. Wilson:
Actually, I don't call myself a scientist but rather a health and science writer. In any event, thank you for your edifying constructive criticism. I'm sure it will be of great help to me in my future writings and will make a powerful contribution to the debate over macronutrient-limiting diets.
At Least She Didn't Call Me a Neanderthal
Regardless of how you feel about Atkins, he did not invent low-carbing. If you review the history of mankind's eating, you will find that man ate low-carb for approximately 2 million years before the advent of agriculture. What needs to be proven here is that high carbohydrate, low fat diets work not [sic] the other way around. Since the advent of high carb, low fat "fad" diets, only instigated [She means "began," but "instigated" does sound more impressive.] within the last 40 years or so, bad health, obesity and death statistics resulting from it have increased dramatically. Low-carb diets definitely cannot be blamed for this epidemic. As you like to say, do the math. Allowing your personal bias against Atkins to interfere with proper investigative research is very irresponsible.
Dear Ms. Nowytzkyj:
That's why I've written that all Atkins did was dust off a low-carb diet popularized over 100 years ago. There is simply no easy characterization of what our cave ancestors ate. The easiest foods for them to obtain were roots and berries, which are almost 100 percent carbohydrate. But they also ate grubs and whenever possible hunted down a mastodon or woolly mammoth, at which point they gorged on fat and protein. I don't think you can compare that to what we eat today or 40 years ago. If you want to be really specific, the American obesity epidemic began just about the year Atkins' first book appeared. But I don't blame him. Both the consumption data from the NHANES surveys and the disappearance data from USDA show that at about that time American caloric consumption began to increase and then to skyrocket. Americans ate more protein, more fat, and more carbs. There is no magic here, no secret that needs divining. We're simply eating more of everything. Add in that "exercise" has become a dirty word and there's your epidemic.
Yep...You're As Stupid As I Thought You Were.
I'm sure other people have pointed this out by now, but I can't resist rubbing it in.
Regarding your comments about Atkin's [sic] weight at his death; the good doctor weighed 195 when we ["We"? So the writer went with him, eh?] went into the hospital and didn't hit a "corpulent" 258 until he'd been hospitalized for days.
See why I say you should sell used cars?
Of course, I wouldn't expect you to have the competence to actually do demanding journalistic tasks like FACT CHECKING before you open your figurative trap...or the emotional maturity to resist the urge to engage in "I told you so" at the expense of a dead man. But is nice to see my opinion of you vindicated.
Oh, and that's so cute how you inserted a typo in the message I sent you on your Hate Mail page. (Yeah, Fumento, I really had trouble spelling the word "heard". Give me a break.) Isn't being intellectually lazy, irrational, emotionally screwed up and incompetent bad enough, without being a liar on top of it?
Used car sales. People don't expect you to have any class, or to tell the truth. You're perfect for it. Do it for the folks.
P.S.: To save you time, I've taken the liberty of preparing your standard response
to criticism: "Oh, yeah? Well, I wrote a BOOK! Did YOU write a book? Didja?
I get the idea that the "big" in your email address doesn't refer to your height. Anyway, it's nice to see you have such confidence in your position that you feel no need to resort to epithets. But do tell how you know that Atkins (yes, that's how it's spelled) gained all that weight while comatose. Did you transform yourself into the proverbial fly on the wall? Or are you just taking the word of people who have $100 million a year at stake?
Actually, I'm the only reporter in the country who did do my fact checking, finding that the smoking gun of the Atkins corporation, the "new report" from the hospital showing he weighed 195 pounds, was merely part of a sheet of paper filled out in a section of the hospital that didn't even have a scale. I'm referring to one of those things you weight things with, not part of a fish.
I'm glad to see you're so concerned with defending people strictly on the basis of their being dead. I trust that if you ever hear anybody mention the holocaust you'll rush to the defense of Hitler because, after all, he's not around to defend himself.
Insofar as you can't spell "Atkins," it's not a difficult presumption that you can't spell "heard" either. And thank you for speaking for all the "people" when it comes to my writings. Strangely, I can't seem to find anybody who voted you in as their representative.
I get it that you weren't fond of Atkins....... However, I have a few
"When the real problem was actually eating those bad carbs....." doesn't sound much like a question to me. And I don't argue that Atkins got it right three decades ago; you do. Fact is, if his diet is a crock today it was a crock then. It's only more successful in raking in money, but that's not the basis on which I judge the success of a diet. And I don't know anything about an FDA pyramid. The only food pyramid the government developed was from USDA and is supported by HHS, of which the FDA is part. The descriptions that accompany the pyramid make absolutely no positive references to processed bread; indeed there are repeated references to the value of non-processed bread, such as "To get the fiber you need, choose several servings a day of foods made from whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread and whole-grain cereals." There are also warnings about simple sugars such as in refined wheat products. The pyramid's worst problem is insisting that fats be limited to 30 percent of calories. There has never been evidence that that's beneficial. On the other hand, I was criticizing the pyramid on those grounds in my 1997 book The Fat of the Land long before the Atkins people latched onto it.
I have repeatedly recommended a diet that eliminates no foods but rather calls for moderation in all things. Complex carbohydrates with a high amount of fiber seem to work best in keeping people feeling full. Exercise is also virtually a necessity, but to say that is the kiss of death for any diet guru.
Somers and the South Beach Diet can be said to be imitators of Atkins, but only to the extent that Atkins imitated other diets. The original low-carb one appeared 100 years before Atkins book did. Others, such as Eat Fat and Grow Slim preceded him by over a decade. If you're suggesting that since he's been imitated he must be right, then what about the huge number of low-fat diet books out there?
And if Atkins led the way to saying that it was wrong to correlate fat consumption with heart disease, then it's just more evidence of the damage he's wrought. Only in very recent years did he begin to differentiate between good fats and bad ones. Atkins just said, "Eat fat." Trans-fats, saturated fats, it was all the same to him. But it's not all the same to your coronaries as he himself discovered.