The Atkins Diet:
Is it Safe and Effective?
People in today’s society all want to find the perfect solution to their weight problems. They are looking for a diet which would allow them to eat all the foods they love and still loose weight. Dr. Robert Atkins, founder of the Atkins Diet, devised a diet that allows people to eat such food as fried eggs, bacon, steak and other high-fat foods as long as they drastically reduced the amount of carbohydrates they consumed. Is this a safe and effective way to lose weight or do the people who choose to follow the Atkins plan suffer health problems later in life? Short-term studies indicate that following the Atkins diet allows people to reduce their weight without raising their cholesterol levels or incurring other heart related problems (J. Gage, 2003).
A six month study conducted by the Veterans Affairs Department and a yearlong study led by Gary D. Foster showed that “Atkins dieters generally had better levels of good cholesterol and no difference in bad cholesterol or blood pressure” (qtd. In Gage, 2003, p 3). These studies indicated that people lose more weight on Atkins than on a low-fat diet, but the difference was not great (Gage, 2003). According to the findings in these short-term studies people who choose to eat a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates do not suffer any major health issues. In some cases the dieters have actually improved their health by lowering their cholesterol and losing weight.
For years we have been told that eating a low-fat diet and following an exercise plan is the key to losing weight and staying healthy. This approach to healthy weight loss can be a slow process but reduces the presumed risks associated with other diets, such as Atkins. Is it possible to eat high-fat foods daily and not cause damage to you heart? High fat foods have been proven to cause health problems such as high blood pressure, colon cancer, and higher cholesterol as well as many other diseases.
A study conducted at the Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina “showed that on average, mildly obese people lost about 21 pounds in four months on the diet and had positive changes in heart risk factors, such as reduced cholesterol and increased HDL or good cholesterol” (healthcenter.com). This study included 41 people who followed a program which reduced carbohydrate intake, took vitamin supplements, fish oil and required 20 minutes of exercise at least three times per week. Over a period of four months these participants lost approximately 21 pounds and showed a drop in cholesterol levels. This study also showed no concern for dangerous effects on the liver or kidneys (healthcenter.com).
Collette Heimowitz, director of nutrition at the Atkins Center in New York has stated that 319 patients were treated for at least a year and the results indicated a...