Local News

Duke Diet Center Launches Low-Carb Program

Posted September 26, 2003 2:53 a.m. EDT

— For years, low-carbohydrate diets, like the popular Atkins diet, have often been labeled as outrageous and even dangerous. In the past few years, medical research has shown there are benefits.

Now, some health experts believe the low-carb diet may be worth a try -- including a nationally known weight loss center in Durham.

Starting Monday, the

Duke Diet and Fitness Center

will be the first diet center to offer a low-carb plan.

Registered dietitian Elizabetta Politi admits the decision was tough to swallow.

"It has been a really big dilemma," she said.

The decision was partially driven by client demand, and equally driven by studies showing a low-carb diet can be effective and safe.

"There's always people who will criticize whatever path you take, but I think many in the medical community understand we can't simply stay put and say the way we've been teaching for so many years is the only way. Clearly it's not getting the job done," said Dr. Howard Eisenson, director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center.

Duke's plan is not a true Atkins diet.

"We don't want to advertise this as the Atkins diet at all," Eisenson said.

A typical meal consists of salad, almond toasted salmon and a vegetable. There is also room for some breads and fruit. The diet plan is low carb -- not no carb.

Duke's meals will continue to be low in fat, with controlled portions.

"Our clients will be eating about 1,200 calories a day," Politi said.

When patients arrive at the center, they will be screened before deciding which diet plan they need. If Duke's program is successful, other diet centers may follow.

Structure House, another respected program in Durham, says it has no plans to offer low-carb diets.