the Atkins diet can be deadly
|the Atkins diet can be deadly|
The government has issued the first official warning about the dangers of the Atkins diet. The government is concerned that more and more people are choosing the Atkins diet, which is high in fat and protein.
The Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for all government dietary guidelines, has issued a statement warning the public about the health risks of low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins diet. It claims they are linked to heart disease, cancer and even obesity.
Over the past two months, leading nutrition experts have been in talks with the Department of Health about the diet craze, and have been asked to carry out a thorough investigation into the risks of these diets.
However, not wanting to face accusations of running a "nanny state" when they themselves issued the warning, ministers decided it would be best to distance themselves from the advice and let it come from food experts.
The dangers are made clear on the agency's website, which makes no mention of the Atkins diet, which has been tried by more than three million people in Britain.
"Avoiding starchy foods or any other food group can have a negative impact on your health as you may miss out on many nutrients," the statement says. This type of diet tends to be unrealistic and boring, and not tasty enough to be tolerated for long.
The statement goes on to say: "High fat diets are also linked to obesity, which is on the rise in the UK. Obese people are at higher risk of diseases such as diabetes and some cancers. Low-carbohydrate diets also tend to be high in fat, and high-fat diets can increase the risk of coronary heart disease.
Advice from leading nutritionist Sam Church, in a question-and-answer style, says that rather than avoiding carbohydrates, it is better to try to eat a meal where they make up a third of your diet.
However, it does not warn of the potential risk of kidney or liver disease if the diet is followed for a long time, possibly because there are no reliable studies to support such claims.
Dr Atkins' Diet Revolution overtook Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in the summer and is now number six on the UK bestseller list, having sold over half a million copies last year.
Supermarkets reported an increase in sales of meat and cheese and a decrease in sales of pasta and rice. The price of eggs has risen 9%, raising concerns about shortages as dieters use food as a means to ensure their daily protein intake. Some sandwich stores are also offering Atkins-friendly dishes such as chicken and salad to meet demand and counteract the decline in sandwich sales since bread is on the list of banned foods.
An Atkins spokesperson explained that studies have shown that the risk of coronary heart disease is increased by large amounts of carbohydrates with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, white rice or white potatoes.
"In all phases of the Atkins program, we encourage the consumption of nutrient-dense foods, including lots of vegetables, and fruits and whole grains are introduced later in the program as people approach their ideal weight," he added.
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