On the word of JonnyX I ran out and bought the Walter Willett book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy. Willett is suggesting that the USDA food pyramid is part of the reason why Americans are getting so fat. As he points out, it wasn’t developed by an agency promoting health but one charged with making sure that agribusiness has a market to sell its wares. The book is pretty highly rated on Amazon, so I’m looking forward to reading it.
I think it is entirely possible that the eating patterns prescribed by Willett and similar books such as Body for Life are actually in scientific agreement with Atkins. If their thesis is correct (and it certiainly appears to be the case) then the highly refined carbohydrate heavy food we have been eating as “low fat” causes a lot of harm to our bodies. This leads to lots of insulin response to our food, which then leads to us being hungrier, etc. It seems entirely possible that Atkins is a correct and effective way of losing weight, but not the most correct. Atkins is kind of a brute force, zero tolerance way of dealing with the fact that some carbo heavy foods are harmful. They subtract the things that need to be subtracted, but lots of other things as well. From my brief glances at the book and reading interviews with him, Willett promotes eating whole grain food, fresh fruit and vegetables, and not avoiding “healthy oils” like olive oil and that found in nuts while cutting out highly refined foods with lots of sugars, trans-fatty acids and saturated fat.
I’ll report back here after I’ve read the book. I’m hoping that this has some insights. I know it has a lot of data, being based on a study of medical workers for over 25 years and correlating their diets with their health issues.