Dropping Daredevil Diets So Dieters Don’t Drop Dead

Dropping Daredevil Diets So Dieters Don’t Drop Dead

Fad Dieting: Fiction, Fashion and Facts

Just like with most things trendy, popular and fashionable, fad dieting has had the rapt attention of the American masses since weight loss became a saleable commodity. Although some fad diets are borne of solid evidence and substantiated breakthroughs in the sciences of health and nutrition, many are not; moreover, the essence of their sheer popularity plays into that uniquely sensitive and powerful, fundamentally human emotion: hope. As such, most fad diets, although ostensibly qualitatively dissimilar, make common bottom-line promises which appeal to baser and better-known aspects of consumer psychology.

Fad diets are often characterized either by the inclusion of special nutritional ingredients or by the exclusion of broad nutritional categories.

Like with fads of any type, fad diets often follow a predictable pattern: a fast rise to popularity, a brief stay in the public consciousness, and then a fast fall out of favor. According to a recent study by Rutgers, other characteristics similar to most fad diets include (but are not to limited to): a promised weight loss of more than 1 or 2 pounds weekly; the use of scare tactics; an underemphasis on the need to control food portions; claims supported mostly or entirely by personal testimonials; and a marked deficiency in categories of major nutrients (3).

Many fad diets are immediately recognizeable to many people by name; others are less well known but have enjoyed periods of popularity nonetheless.

Diets which have enjoyed recent popular success include: The Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet, Jenny Craig, Low Fat Diet, Low Carb Diet, the Zone Diet, the Beverly Hills Diet, the Grapefruit Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet, and various incarnations of the 3-Day Diet. Here we’ll explore three of these by name, visit briefly their histories and features and draw comparisons where applicable.

One of the most popular diets in recent history is the Atkins Diet. Authored by Dr. Robert Atkins, his book from the 1970s laid out a plan in four phases, each with an increasing emphasis on controlling carbohydrate intake (2). Newer low carbohydrate diets are often modeled after the original Atkins Diet. A noteable downside to the Atkins Diet is its remarkably high fat content. Nonetheless, many people have reported various degrees of success and satisfaction with the Atkins Diet. Others have criticized it for being too difficult to follow. As with other diets, the Atkins Diet requires the advice and oversight of a consulting physician.

3-Day Diets comprise a variety of eating plans which emphasize low caloric intake.

The obvious problem with 3-Day Diets is that they are rarely, if ever, maintainable beyond the short-term without serious risk to well-being. It follows that dieters who pursue these kinds of diets often gain back the weight they lose in a short period of time. A variety of menus and meal plans are available and their surrounding discussion on the Internet and in the media is constant. Rarely will diets of this type be promoted as a safe alternative to more sustainable healthy eating plans.

Some fad diets exist which rely on a common, although unusual, central ingredient. One diet of this type is the Apple Cider Vinegar diet. First promoted in the 1950s, the science behind a diet of this type is shaky and untested at best; at worst, diets of this kind may have no measurable efficacy whatsoever. However, optimistic testimonials are often touted as evidence of its success and dieters’ groups exist which promote and experiment with the weight loss theories espoused by diets of this nature.

Categories: Diet, Nutrition, Weight Loss