The Dukan Diet—Reality Check

May 12th, 2011 by MorganDowney Leave a reply »

The Dukan Diet… Reality Check

The Dukan Diet is getting a lot of attention, well, a lot of marketing, as the latest diet secret from France. What’s the fact’s behind the diet?

For one, the book claims on its jacket that it is “The Real Reason the French Stay Thin.” Actually, the French aren’t doing all that well. True, they do not have as high rates of obesity as some other nations but their rates have been steadily increasing. From 1980 to 2006-7, rates of overweight in France have gone up from 33% to 57.2%,  and for obesity from 6.4% to 16/1%. Source: WHO :: Global Database on Body Mass Index  

According to OECD, rates of obesity in France are expected to continue to grow moderately but with larger growth in rates of overweight. http://www.oecd.org/officialdocuments/displaydocumentpdf?cote=delsa/hea/wd/hwp(2009)3&doclanguage=en) See also, Trends and Stabilization up to 2022 in Overweight and Obesity in Switzerland, Comparison to France, UK, US and Australia

About the Dukan Diet itself, many claims are made or implied. For example, “ 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep it off Forever,” and “Never Feel Hungry Again.” So, on the theory that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, let’s look at the scientific evidence behind the diet.

First, let’s go to the  published, peer reviewed, independent randomized controlled clinical trials on the Dukan Diet. Well, there don’t seem t to be any. How about published observational studies? Nope. Any published papers ?

Well, the doctor must have his own data from his own patients, like the number starting his diet. Seemingly not. Number  who dropped out? Nada Reasons for droping out? Age, gender,economic/occupational level?  Forgetaboutit.   Placebo controls? Is that French?

 In 12 years of attending obesity scientific and medical conferences, number of presentations, abstracts I’ve seen or heard about on the Dukan diet? Zip. Number of published articles in the National Library of Medicine’s  international  database of scientific articles , Pub Med, by Dr. Pierre Dukan: 0          

Weight loss?  How much: no information. Change in BMI status, WC? Beats me? How long and how much was the weight loss maintained? Now you are really becoming tedious! Was there no weight regain? When? How much?  Sacre Bleu!

What is the essential message you must know about the Dukan Diet? It is in the front pages and it reads:

“The material in this book is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and care of your physician. As with all new weight loss or weight maintenance regimes, the nutrition and fitness program described in this book should be followed only after first consulting with your physician to make sure it is appropriate for your individual circumstances. Keep in mind that nutritional needs vary from person to person, depending on age, sex, health status, and total diet. The author and publisher expressly disclaim any responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained in this book. ( Emphasis Added)

The French food agency and the British Dietetic Association have both questioned its safety. Royal wedding: Middleton fuels speculation about Dukan diet – latimes.com

Asking for some studies is not a high hurdle. Consumer Reports recently released its evaluation of diet plans, giving first place to Jenny Craig, followed by Slim Fast and Weight Watchers . Jenny Craig got credit for a two-year study of participants. Consumer Reports names America’s top diets – Health – Salon.com