Atkins Food Pyramid Aims to Clear Confusion
Critics Say Recommendations Not Based on Science
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 17, 2004 -- The format may look familiar, but experts say the new
"Atkins Lifestyle Food Guide Pyramid" has little in common with the
food pyramid issued by the USDA.
"It's completely flipped from what was always been done --
the whole grains are at the top and the meats are at the bottom," says
registered dietitian Debbie Strong of the Ochsner Clinic Foundation's Heart and
Vascular Institute in New Orleans.
Protein sources, such as poultry, fish, beef, pork, and soy
products, form the base of the Atkins
Lifestyle Food Guide Pyramid. Green vegetables
and cauliflower form the next layer, followed by fruits, such as blueberries,
raspberries, pears, and avocados. Vegetable and seed oils, cheese and dairy,
nuts, and legumes are near the top with whole grains at the peak of the
But the Atkins-based food pyramid is only the latest entry into
an already crowded field of proposals about what the country's next official
nutritional guide should look like.
food guide pyramid, which emphasizes bread, cereal, rice, and pasta at the
base and limits fats and sweets at the peak, was developed in 1992. Federal
officials have acknowledged it needs updating and have solicited comments from
experts and the public on the process. A revised version is expected in
In the meantime, experts say we can expect a flood of food
pyramids as groups continue to promote their own versions.
"The problem is we get so many pyramids out there,"
says registered dietitian Wahida Karmally, DrPH, spokeswoman for the American
Dietetic Association. "Anybody can have their own food pyramid, and that's
why it's really confusing. It really does a disservice to the American
population who is already confused about what they have to eat."
The Food Pyramid, Atkins Style
Last week, the Atkins Physicians Council presented its version
of the food pyramid to federal officials in Washington, D.C., and began a media
campaign to educate the public about it.
"Clearly the standard food pyramid has not produced the
results anticipated with obesity rates doubling among adults and children,"
says Stuart Trager, MD, chairman of the Atkins Physicians Council.