by Marion Nestle
Aug 30 2007

What’s My Take on Diet Books?

That same commenter had a second question: “What’s your take on all the diet books that are out there these days?”

I’m not sure which ones you mean in particular, but it doesn’t matter. They are all pretty much the same. They promise that if you just do this one thing, weight will pour off. All of them work–for some people, for some period of time. All of them say they are easy to follow and are a breakthrough, and all provide a semblance of biological rationale (some better than others). Whatever the gimmick–low fat, low carbohydrate, high volume of fruits and vegetables, low glycemic index, whatever–all have to be based on some method to reduce calories. Calories count. That’s why it matters to eat less and move more. Diets that suggest “eat more” fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, however, do make sense. But the ones that suggest eating more fat usually don’t (because fat has more concentrated calories). Whatever the diets suggest, they are unlikely to be harmful for a few weeks.