Lo Carb Conspiracy
Lo Carb! Low Carb! Carb Assist!
Whatever the coy brand name, Dr. Atkins is everywhere. You can't pass a store shelf without seeing something advertised as low (or "lo") carb. Why?
As a vegetarian, I became curious about the Atkins diet, since I've never been catered to in the manner that low carb dieters have been. Despite the fact that vegetarians have been around for thousands of years, it's only been in the past few years that vegetarian items began to appear on most restraunt menus. Non-meat selections in grocery stores have been almost as recent a phenomenon. It's still difficult to find good Miso in a lot of grocery stores. When was the last time you heard an item advertised anywhere as "vegetarian"? And yet, "low carb" products are everywhere. Every shelf in every grocery store, every menu in nearly every restaurant. How is it that Low Carb products appeared so suddenly, and with such abandon?
Certainly, obesity is a tremendous problem in America. Excess fat appears to be responsible for a lot of suffering: it's been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Is it possible that the food industry suddenly discovered Dr. Atkin's diet in an effort to curb the scourge of obesity? Can we really keep consuming at gluttonously unsustainable levels and still be thin? Could a low carbohydrate diet save us from ourselves?
Well, as it turns out, no. As a matter of fact, the Atkins diet is nothing new after all. It's been around since the 1970s. Many people -- mostly women, whom the diet was mercilously targeted toward -- lost some weight on it initially, but then gained it all back. According to several studies going all the way back to the 70s, the atkins diet "works" by depleting water, stored glucose, and muscle tissue in the dieter. The kidneys and liver are so overworked in an effort to rid the body of toxic fats that they drain water out of the person's tissues. Predictably, this leads to short-term loss of water weight, and to ill health for the dieter.
More recently, the high fat, low carb diet has been linked to osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. This seems logical, since researchers have known for decades that the way to reduce the risk for all of these ailments is by eating a low fat, high fiber diet rich in the very fruits and vegetables that are denied by Dr. Atkins.
Why, then, all this sudden interest in a diet that's been around since the 1970s? A diet that, in fact, was discredited and abandoned decades ago, because it didn't work? A diet that appears to actually be dangerous to your health?
Isn't it interesting that the Low Carb craze came around at about the same time Mad Cow disease began making headlines. Is it possible that the incredibly rich and well-connected beef industry has found a way to counter the growing move toward a plant-based diet? It would seem so.
In her book "Food Politics," Marion Nestle makes a good case that food industry lobbyists have been fighting to keep us from getting any "eat less" messages about their products. For example, the controversial "food pyramid" took years and many revisions to be released to the public because the dairy and meat industries did not like what it initially said. As a result, despite the fact that food researchers have known for nearly a century that the healthiest diet is a low fat, plant-based diet, the public remains confused. Nestle outlines many instances in which the food industry has conspired to keep accurate health information out of the public's hands if it interfered with sales.
It certainly appears as though the low carb craze is more of the same. This time, though, with consequences that could be deadly. It seems to be a shameless ploy to keep us gulping down cattle carcasses for a few more years...until the toll is undeniable.
Do yourself a favor and forget the "low carb lifestyle" before its too late. Americans are fat because they consume too much. It's that simple. No box of "low carb" ice cream is going to remedy that fact. If you want to lose weight, put the ice cream down. Eat less. Eat sensibly. I know it's not always easy, but that's how it's done. Eat fruits and vegetables, not hamburgers without the bun. Your body will thank you for it, Bossie will thank you for it, and the meat industry will finally get what it has coming.
(And before you say it, no, I'm not down on fat people. I'm down on quackery, on over consumption, and on a food industry that lies to us.)
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion
view discussion from this article