Connect with Us



The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE January 3, 2001

Doctors Rate Popular Diet Books

Low-Fat Books Score Healthiest; High-Protein, Atkins-Style Diets Earn 'Unsafe' Rating

WASHINGTON—On the eve of a long-awaited U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report on the health effects of popular diets, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has completed its own nutritional analysis of top weight-loss books. Doctors and registered dietitians at PCRM, a nonprofit health organization based in Washington, D.C., rated 11 of the top books, including best-sellers by diet authors Robert Atkins, M.D., and Barry Sears, Ph.D.

Only two books earned PCRM's top rating of five stars: Eat More, Weigh Less by Dean Ornish, M.D., and The McDougall Program for Weight Loss by John McDougall, M.D. Both promote low-fat, vegetarian diets, which are high in fiber and low in cholesterol. Lowest ratings went to Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution and The Carbohydrate Addict's Lifespan Program by Richard Heller, Ph.D., and Rachel Heller, Ph.D., both of which espouse high-protein, low-carbohydrate menus. Atkins' and Ornish's programs are likely to be included in the USDA report scheduled for release 11 January.

"Comparing the choices out there for dieters, the vegetarian diets are clearly the healthiest, the more moderate low-fat diets are a distant second, and high-protein, Atkins-style diets are the worst—in fact, dangerous over the long run," says PCRM president Neal D. Barnard, M.D. "High-protein diets can harm the kidneys, weaken bones, increase cancer and heart disease risk, and create a number of other health problems."

Both of the diet books ranked highest by PCRM are supported by published research studies, while high-protein diets are not.

PCRM rated each book's daily diet recommendations on five criteria critical to good nutrition and safe, healthy weight loss: a minimum of 25 grams of fiber, five servings of fruits and vegetables, no more than 50 milligrams of cholesterol, no more than 30 percent of total calories from fat and no more than 10 percent from saturated fat.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

Mail Options:
Subscribe to PCRM’s news release distribution list

Unsubscribe from PCRM’s news release distribution list

2015 Archive

2014 Archive

2013 Archive

2012 Archive

2011 Archive

2010 Archive

2009 Archive

2008 Archive

2007 Archive

2006 Archive

2005 Archive

2004 Archive

2003 Archive

2002 Archive

2001 Archive

2000 Archive

This site does not provide medical or legal advice. This Web site is for informational purposes only.
Full Disclaimer | Privacy Policy

The Physicians Committee
5100 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Ste.400, Washington DC, 20016
Phone: 202-686-2210     Email: