Worried that Americans are doing the wrong thing to lose weight, the government has decided to test two of the nation's most popular diets, low-carbohydrate and low fat, to see which is the more effective and safer way to drop the pounds.
Millions of Americans have tried one of the diets or several variations of them, including the wildly popular, high-protein, low-carbohydrate regimen developed by cardiologist Robert Atkins that lets people eat omelets, bacon and bun-less burgers. A rival diet promoted by internist Dean Ornish, an outspoken critic of Atkins, is ultra low fat and virtually vegetarian.
Researchers with the Agriculture Department plan to put two groups of people on prototype diets that are similar to those Atkins and Ornish are pushing and measure how much weight they lose and what effects the plans have on their health. Some medical experts say the Atkins diet could damage the kidneys or bones, a claim he disputes.
The studies will be directed by USDA's nutrition research center at the University of California-Davis.
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