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Taubes's dual challenge of my use and assessment of the Registry falls on both counts. I cited its use by numerous peer-reviewed publications to show that (once again) Taubes has cut himself off from the medical community in rejecting its usefulness. My interpretation of the study is precisely the same as that of James Hill and Rena Wing, who were in charge of it. The people in the Registry are keeping their weight off through a diet that is the opposite of what Atkins recommends. Yes, the Registry is uncontrolled; that's part of its value. It's an additional piece of information refuting Atkins-Taubes that happens to jibe with the controlled studies and the government surveys. Instead, Taubes prefers the Consumer Reports write-in survey which, unlike the Registry, had no mechanism for checking veracity or for tracking.
To reiterate, there is no empirical support for Taubes's assertion that high-fat intake can suppress hunger and he cited no such support, substituting instead another volley of verbiage. Barbara Rolls is certainly widely considered the top authority on the subject, with PubMed registering an amazing 49 references to articles using her name (Rolls BJ) and "satiety" as search terms. Try that with "Taubes" or "Atkins" and you'll find zip. Taubes also misrepresents the scope of Rolls' work; she has studied satiety in practically every way imaginable. Perhaps that explains why Taubes omitted every word from his six-hour interview with her, as well as all the work discussed in those 49 PubMed references. Furthermore, a PubMed search reveals that one review after another has found fat has no satiety advantage over carbohydrates.
There are numerous such misrepresentations in Taubes' response. Marion Nestle "is not and never has been an obesity researcher," says Taubes. Yet she's the author or co-author of six medical or science journal articles and one book on the subject. The "glycemic index concept" could help explain why the Atkins diet works, says Taubes. Is that why he couldn't do any better than to present hyperglycemia expert Michael Schwartz as a supporter of the concept when Schwartz had already written in Science that, "Although the concept that insulin triggers weight gain has little scientific merit, it remains a key selling point for advocates of diets that are low in carbohydrate and high in protein and fat"? Just whom might Schwartz be referring to?
Refuting Taubes' indignant assertions point by point would involve repeating my original essay; I refer readers back to that story. I'll merely conclude with his treatment of the 1973 AMA assessment, which again is refuted simply by rereading my article. The AMA found that, "The notion that sedentary persons, without malabsorption or hyperthyroidism, can lose weight on a diet containing 5,000 calories a day [as Atkins claimed] is incredible," that "no scientific evidence exists to suggest that the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet has a metabolic advantage over more conventional diets for weight reduction," and "there is no reason to associate a diet rich in carbohydrate with obesity." All this Taubes summarized by saying the AMA "acknowledged that the diet probably worked."
I shall make no effort to refute point-by-point someone who in fear for his reputation as a science writer has decided he can substitute length for facts.
Michael Fumento is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of The Fat of the Land: The American Obesity Epidemic and How Overweight Americans Can Help Themselves (Viking, 1997). His next book, on biotechnology, will be published in the spring by Encounter Books. An archive of Michael Fumento's work is online at fumento.com.
For Gary Taubes' reply to Michael Fumento, click here. Fumento's story "Big Fat Fake" appeared in the March issue of Reason. Taubes's story, "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?," appeared in The New York Times Magazine in 2002.