There were, however, some lonely voices of oppostion. The late Dr. Robert Atkins, for one, said the government had it all wrong. The Atkins diet approach, which allows unlimited protein and fats including meats, cheeses, eggs and butter, eaten along with very limited quantities of all types of carbohydrates--even fruits and vegetables--is based on the body's ability to switch its metabolism from a carb-burning mode to a fat-burning mode once carbs are eliminated.

Most nutritional experts are wary of Atkins' extreme recommendations because of the dramatic, and possibly hazardous, changes his diet can have on the body. Among the many concerns are possible vitamin deficiencies, dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, and kidney, heart and gallbladder disease. "We need to know much more before people start making claims...Shouldn't diet doctors prove safety first, rather than write books and then say 'OK, prove harm,'" comments Keith Ayoob, spokesperson for the American Dietic Association and associate professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.