PW: Atkins for Life is your first new take on the Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution in years. What made you want to write another book?
Robert C. Atkins: I had to, because America is having an epidemic of obesity. Back in 1972, I had written a book, Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution, because people were not paying attention to the problem—they were creating a diabetes epidemic.
PW: You've published with several houses. Why did you return to St. Martin's with this second book?
RCA: I'm not the one who makes those decisions. There are many publishers out there who want to talk to me through my agent.
PW: Do you think that you are reaching a new generation with this book?
RCA: No, I'm not trying to reach a new generation, but I'm trying to reach out to all those people who have been on the diet and who are concerned about keeping the weight off. I also wanted to approach people who were not overweight, but who desired to live healthier. I want to make people understand that this is a lifestyle change—and that it's not a zero carbohydrate diet, but a controlled carb diet. There is an emphasis on choosing the right carbs, and in so doing, the entire diet becomes good, healthy living.
PW: There seem to be more diet books out now than ever. Why are people still getting fatter?
RCA: I think there will be a turnaround—even though others have written books saying that carbs are bad and there are still so many people who are criticizing the [Atkins] diet plan. There is so much misinformation out there, and people are believing this is inaccurate information. Now, almost every medical organization is, in fact, pushing a high-carb diet.
PW: What's our problem in America? Why can people in such carb-eating countries as China and Italy stay thin?
RCA: Actually, it's quite the opposite: Recent research has evidenced that Italy has more overweight children than the U.S. Italy has four times the number of diabetics that France has. Italians eat the same amount of carbs as French, the difference is that the French eat pommes frites and the Italians eat pasta. It's white flour vs. potatoes. I believe that pasta is a junk food. In China the situation is different. Most people eat small portions of food.
PW: Have you yourself had an eating disorder?
RCA: I was overweight but I wouldn't call it a disorder, because I ate what everyone else was eating. I was never taught what healthy foods were, and naturally I gained weight. What first caught my attentiond was an article in the AMA journal in 1963 that low-carb diet is an alternative to low-cal.
PW: You must be an ideal weight. May I ask you how much you weigh?
RCA: I think I am. I'm 189 pounds and I am six feet tall. I weighed a lot more before this diet.
PW: You have gone from the fringe to the mainstream. Is this book in any way a response to the many low-carb diets that have come after your first book?
RCA: No, I presume that all of those people writing low-carb, low-sugar books saw the same problem—that people were losing weight only to put it right back on. The previous diet books saw dieting as a temporary thing, and carbohydrate restriction is a complete lifestyle change.