What Took So Long?

By | May 27, 2004

Surprise surprise, someone decided to sue the people behind the Atkins Diet. I came across this article on the New York Times’ website: link. It details a lawsuit filed by a man named Jody Gorran, whose cholesterol skyrocketed after two years of the Atkins Diet.

I am torn on this issue. On one hand, I hate dumb lawsuits (although if someone can come up with a money-making lawsuit idea for me, I might change my mind). On the other hand, the particulars of this lawsuit indicate that Mr. Gorran is not looking for easy money (he is already wealthy, for one thing, and the dollar amounts specified in the suit are pretty small). It’s that nagging point on my third hand that concerns me: what about common sense?

When I was down in California with my wife for Christmas five months ago, my cousin Nathan was telling me about the Atkins Diet and telling me I should try it with him. When I said “No thanks,” Nathan’s tactful father Uncle Kenny said, “What, are you gonna wait until you have a heart attack before you start losing weight?”

One of the best things about having Kenny for an uncle is that you never have to worry about being rude, because you know that however rude you are, he will top it. So I said, “No, I just figured that I would try a common-sense approach to weight loss like exercise and a healthy diet.”

And that’s my point here. Jody Gorran, in his two years on the Atkins Diet, ate massive amounts of cheese, and he had cheesecake a few times a week. It just strikes me as preternaturally absurd that a man would follow a diet that flies in the face of medical science and then be surprised that he has suddenly become unhealthy. That he would/could sue someone besides himself for such a thing boggles my mind.

I don’t doubt that scientists and dieticians are capable of discovering new truths about health and weight loss. I just seriously doubt that any worthwhile new finding would be totally contrary to every previous finding. We all know that America is notoriously overweight, but do any of us really believe that the cause of this weight problem is too many dinner rolls and not enough bacon?

Let’s pretend that I keep getting cavities in my teeth. Every time I get a cavity, I go to the dentist, and he fills it. My teeth work fine, and I still don’t have to worry about brushing them!

It’s the same way with Atkins. The only true solution is the one that counteracts the problem. Getting your teeth filled fixes the problem in the short term, but there are other consequences (you can’t chew on staples, for one). Atkins helps people lose weight, but it doesn’t help people become healthier.

I guess that’s what it all boild down to: why do we want to lose weight? For me, the reason to lose weight is so that I can live a long, healthy life with my wife and future children. I was never successful at losing weight before I met my wife, because my main (perhaps only) motivation was to look good for the girls. Appearance was never enough motivation, and I remained overweight.

Two things changed when health, instead of appearance, became my motivation: first, I no longer looked for fads that might work for me, because I knew that they would not fix the underlying cause of my weight problem; and second, I was actually motivated, because it was no longer a selfish endeavor.

America’s obesity is directly related to two things: laziness and eating too much. Therefore, any true solution to America’s obesity will have a great deal to do with solving those two issues. I have been successful in losing weight√Ę‚?¨‚??and becoming more healthy√Ę‚?¨‚??because I have started to overcome my laziness and eat right. I go to the gym almost every day, and I only eat three meals a day (and those three meals consist of fruits and vegetables and reasonable portions of other things).

The Atkins Diet actually contributes to laziness, because it requires no hard changes. If you are unhealthy right now, you are not going to become healthy by taking your bad habits to extremes.

Which brings us back to Mr. Jody Gorran. He is absolutely right that the Atkins Diet was not good for his health. Unfortunately for him, he should have known that. The goal of anyone trying to lose weight should be to be more healthy, and the vast majority of people wanting to be more healthy will probably discover that Atkins isn’t for them.

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