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diet: the total daily food intake, or the types of foods eaten prevalence: describing the number of cases in a population at any one time overweight: weight above the accepted norm based on height, sex, and age obesity: the condition of being overweight, according to established norms based on sex, age, and height obese: above accepted standards of weight for sex, height, and age

Dr. Robert Atkins, 1931-2003. Atkins's books promote a low-carbohydrate diet that is proven to cause weight loss, but which may cause dangerous side effects and malnutrition. [AP/Wide World Photos. Reproduced by permission.]

carbohydrate: food molecule made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, including sugars and starches advice counter to that provided by science-based governmental and nongovernmental organizations. Is it any wonder that such diets fail to achieve long-term results, so needed by the majority of Americans?

Fad diets take many forms. Over the years, they have promoted consumption of specific foods (e.g., the Cabbage Soup Diet, the Drinking Man's Diet, the Grapefruit Diet), specific combinations of foods (e.g., the Zone) and specific times that foods must be eaten (e.g., the Rotation Diet). Some popular diets recommend elimination of certain foods (e.g., carbohydrates in the Atkins Diet, Protein Power, the Carbohydrate Addicts Diet, Life without Bread, and Sugar Busters!). Others recommend eating based on a person's blood type (e.g., Eat Right for Your Type), or eating like a caveman (e.g., Neanderthin). Celebrities promote diets (e.g., Suzanne Somers' Get Skinny on Fabulous Food), and fad diets have taken the name of well-known places associated with wealth, fame, and thinness (e.g., the Beverly Hills Diet, the South Beach Diet). If any one of these fad diets worked, the problem of obesity would likely have been solved long ago.

Some fad diets have been popular for many years (e.g., Atkins' Diet Revolution). Books appear as "new, revised" editions and continue to sell

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