Nutritionally incorrect

Posted: Dec 02, 2002 12:00 AM
Thanksgiving dinner: Turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and the most served dish of all in America ... guilt. Every newspaper reader knows it. Americans are growing wider. According to the federal government, 61 percent of American adults are overweight -- 26 percent are obese. Scolds blame McDonald's, bad parenting and big portions. Fat and happy? Fuggedaboutit. The scolds conveniently forget another culprit in America's fat figures: U.S. government weight tables don't set different standards by gender. The feds calculate that a 6-foot male shouldn't weigh 190 pounds or more. With standards like that, even the trim can fall into the category of chunky. Now the Fat Police are grousing not only that Americans aren't losing enough weight -- but also that they're not shedding their pounds in a nutritionally correct way. A new Duke University Medical Center study found that the infamous high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet named for its creator, Dr. Robert Atkins, was more successful than the American Heart Association low-fat diet in helping 120 human guinea pigs lose weight. Rather than applauding, the Fat Police had a cow. Apparently, you have to suffer when you diet, or the lost pounds don't count. In fact, the Atkins diet is not fair. Ask any woman who watched her husband shed 40 pounds while eating bacon and eggs every morning. What's more -- and this drives the Green Veggy Patrol crackers -- Atkins dieters' cholesterol often decreases. I could never do it. I'd go mad if I couldn't eat pasta, bread or potatoes. When I gain pounds, I lose weight the old-fashioned way, by starving for weeks on end. It's clear that Atkins isn't for every one. It's for people who really, really like meat and can go without starch. Thanksgiving? The Atkins website suggests turkey, shrimp-stuffed eggs and broccoli puree. So when the good news on Atkins came out, the Diet Czars simply could have opined that it's not a diet everyone can stick to. Instead, one expert told The San Francisco Chronicle, the Atkins diet "makes money for Dr. Atkins and not much more than that." That's a misdirected dish when you think of all the snake-oil weight-loss programs featured on TV that entice the gullible to send in their money for pills and devices that will allow them to shed pounds while eating what they want -- and those products don't help consumers to slim down. Another nutrition expert noted, "Hepatitis C is effective at helping people lose weight, too," as if shedding pounds while lowering one's cholesterol is synonymous with getting a debilitating disease. Hello. There are millions of Americans who daily wolf down a double-cheeseburger and large fries for lunch, and wash it down with a super-size Coke. Their vegetable intake for the day will be a pickle, lettuce and tomato slice. Yet some food purists have nothing better to do than attack a man who tells those people they can lose weight by dispensing with the bun, the fries and sugary soft drink. Why? Because the Atkins diet limits intake of fruits and some veggies. You know, there's a word for people who oppose the healthy shedding of excess pounds accompanied by a salutary reduction in cholesterol: Twinkies.