business news in context, analysis with attitude, the online magazine, reports on the attempts being made by animal rights activists to dampen the national enthusiasm for the low-carb, meat-heavy diets that are sweeping the nation.

At a recent press conference at Washington's National Press Club, a number of people shared their stories of misery caused, in their minds, by the Atkins Diet and its brethren. There was the 53-year-old man who had no heart problems before he went on Atkins and then, after two and a half years on the diet and a loss of a significant amount of weight, suffered from heart disease and eventually had to have an angioplasty.

There was a 51-year-old man whose cholesterol went from 160 to 158 on the Atkins Diet. And there was the obese teenager who dropped dead after using the diet to try and lose weight.

Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), was described by Salon as being the "master of ceremonies at this media circus of misery," and is a self-proclaimed advocate of a plant-based diet. He represents the cadre of people who not only believe that eating meat is physically bad for you, but a philosophically bad idea as well.

Barnard and his associates are looking for a federal investigation into the long-term effects of low-carb, high-meat diets. "We are calling on the CDC to try to lure Americans away from its honeymoon with the diet that has made its reputation from the fact that it's so counterintuitive -- eat the worst possible food, and lose weight," he said.

For its part, Atkins Nutritionals released a prepared statement that said, in part, "All of us at Atkins are deeply disturbed by PCRM's shameless exploitation of people who have struggled through personal tragedies." The Atkins position seems simple - a percentage of people get sick, and the percentage of people who get sick while on the Atkins Diet is no larger than the percentage of people who get sick while not on it.
KC's View:
It is an interesting debate, and while we have no sympathy for the lunatic fringe on either side, we do think this is an important discussion. After all, the Atkins Diet and its brethren does seem incredibly counter-intuitive; even as we've lost weight on it, it has been hard to believe that we're actually helping our long-term health.

One of the people speaking at the National Press Club, referring to the damage that the Atkins Diet had done to his health, said that he'd "made a deal with the devil for a 32-inch waist." We know how he feels, even if we're satisfied with just keeping a 34-inch waist.

It's hard to know if or when the devil is going to come to collect. Guess we'll find out next time we have a physical…