'The Atkins Diet' BBC2 Thu 12 Aug 2004, 9pm

From: Eva
Category: TV
Date: 13 August 2004


BBC2 billed this programmes as "the truth about the world's most famous, most glamorous and most controversial diet". It took a whole, prime-time, hour to extract this 'truth'. For those too sensible to have followed this diet the Atkins regime basically rules that you can eat as much of whatever you like as long as it's not carbohydrate. You could eat a whole tub of butter and a leg of lamb and still loose weight. As this flies in the face of every nutritional guideline there must be some voodoo going on, especially as Gerri Halliwell is one of the diet's chief advocates. So how does it work?

For those too sensible to have watched this programme I can reveal that the reason the diet works is because, amazingly, no one actually wants to eat a whole tub of butter, and it just so happens that protein is an appetite suppressor. So people on the diet are eating less, and that's why they're loosing weight.

The most interesting part of this documentary was the conspiratorial style of the voiceover, part of the over laboured process of revealing the rather obvious culprit in this high budget science who-dunnit. I would very much have enjoyed taking part in some of the experiments that padded out the programme. Especially hilarious was the one where two groups of willing human guinea pigs were offered identical meals; one high fat, the other low fat. The scientist in charge took great pains to emphasise that the meals were chosen to look exactly the same. A hand was seen pouring highest quality cream into one portion of bolognaise sauce, followed by the low fat portion being seen laced with an awful vegetable oil. The startling conclusion of this experiment was that the subjects preferred the high fat meal and ate more of it. Could this have been because the quality of ingredients was better, and though the two portions may have looked the same they didn't taste the same. I hope I get the fatty meal when I apply to be fed in the name of science.

The big question now is whether I have justified not bothering to turn the TV off last night, or whether I've made it worse by going over it?