I've been hearing about the Atkins diet for years, mostly from my wife, who just gets mad anytime anyone mentions it. I just saw this story on MSNBC.com about one of NBC's correspondents who's been on Atkins for years and loves it. Doctors are still arguing over whether this diet is actually any good for you. It's hard to disagree with the results, but I'd hate to see Mr. Mankiewicz's arteries from all that steak he's been eating.
My take on this diet and other "fad" diets like Sugarbusters or the Zone: if it works for you, great. More power to you. I hope you're exercising regularly, too. I think that one of the main reasons we're becoming one of the fattest countries in the world is that we have so many creature comforts -- remote control, food delivery, high-speed Internet, cordless phones, online shopping, etc. -- that we have little reason to get off our fat asses and do something physical. Fifty years ago, we ate more red meat and fat, but we also had to get up to turn on the TV, answer the phone, walk to work (because we couldn't afford a car), and so on. (Or at least this is what I assume happened back in the Dark Ages of the 1950s.) Anyway, we didn't have all these stay-at-home options available to us, so we were more active. It happened to me a few years ago. I used to work at Georgetown University (after I graduated from there) and as part of my job I walked across campus several times a day going to different departments to fix problems. When I left GU and took a job confined to one office, I gained weight because I didn't have to walk around all day anymore. Now I have to force myself to go to the gym twice a week and ride my bike on weekends so that I can eat the fatty foods I love. When I do eat something fatty, I feel guilty about it and make up for it by eating better at my next meal, or working even harder at the gym. I know that the alternative is to gain 15 pounds and feel out of shape.
Here's the other thing: people are stupid. They watch TV and see ads for products that let you burn fat while you sleep or watch TV. They believe that they can eat anything they want and keep the weight off without exercise. Or they just don't care. That's why we're a nation of fat-asses. It's not what we're eating that's killing us. It's that we don't exercise enough anymore.