The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) has released a statement opposing popular fad diets as a means for losing weight.
In its statement, the College takes particular exception to the popular Atkins diet, which restricts carbohydrates and recommends calorie intake principally from all varieties of fat and protein. New research has recently confirmed the benefits of the diet for weight-loss.
"Of course, the Atkins diet can produce weight loss in the short term, and it can lower cholesterol," said Dr David L. Katz, a member of the ACPM Board of Regents and director of the Prevention Research Center at the Yale University School of Medicine. "It achieves its results by restricting calories, as do all fad diets. People can attain rapid weight loss and lower cholesterol by eliminating any entire food category from their diets, but that doesn't mean it's good for them. Serious illness such as AIDS and cancer tend to cause weight and cholesterol to plummet, but clearly these are not desirable for health."
The ACPM statement points out that much is known about the dietary pattern that best promotes human health in the long term, such as a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruit, with very limited calories from saturated and trans fats. "These characteristics of a health-promoting diet are very much at odds with the Atkins diet, and many other popular weight loss diets," explained Dr Katz. "We have evidence as well that the very dietary pattern that promotes health, in conjunction with regular physical activity, is the best means of producing sustainable weight loss, and even preventing diabetes."
ACPM president Dr Dorothy Lane said the issue is directly related to a primary mission of the College, promoting good health in the general population."The members of the College..see fad diets as a dangerous distraction from healthful means of achieving weight control, and therefore a genuine threat to the public health," Dr Lane said.
Dr Katz further wrote: "We live in an environment that makes it easy, if not irresistible, to be sedentary and to overeat. We either need to change this environment, or empower people with the specific skills and strategies they need to overcome its challenges so they can achieve a healthful diet and weight control. Neither is easy, but both are achievable. And unlike fad diets, these approaches will protect and promote the public's health."
The College announced its position at the end of its 2003 Annual Meeting. ACPM represents around 2,000 physicians worldwide.