Eat your broccoli

August 05, 2005

THE ATKINS REVOLUTION has gone the way of many more-political ones. The bulky heard Dr. Robert Atkins' siren call - eat steak! lose weight! - and signed on, en masse. The sheer force of nearly one-tenth of American adults cutting their carbs at the same time changed the foodie world. The founder of the high-protein, low-carbohydrate lifestyle and his company rode the wave up, but, as usual, hubris and leaner, hungrier challengers took the air out of their sails. But there was some good to the insanity, besides as a powerful example of clever marketing and groupthink.

Atkins Nutritionals' retreat into bankruptcy was swift; it has had to dump millions of dollars' worth of its poorly selling frozen dinners. Analysts cite the rise of too many like-minded food producers and diet plans, Atkins Nutritionals' poor management choices, as well as the accidental death of Dr. Atkins, whose autopsy revealed a guru both overweight and with heart trouble. And, of course, many Americans didn't follow the very stringent rules, so the diet didn't work for them, so they dumped it. En masse.

But the diet plan did do for Americans what its government couldn't - spill the beans on how many of us reach out for those rolls a bit too much. That's a tough message to sell in a country that has considered itself the bread basket of the world.

What goes in the body stays on the body. Pass the spinach.

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