Terrors of the Table: The Curious History of Nutrition

Jane and Michael Stern review Walter Gratzer’s book in the New York Times:

AtkinsTo eat is basic instinct; how to do it correctly worries humans more than sex. So “Terrors of the Table” is a perfect title for this story of nutritional doctrine’s tyranny up to modern times when, in Walter Gratzer’s words, fear of cholesterol has “supplanted the Devil as the roaring lion who walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Gratzer, a biophysicist at King’s College, London, who previously put a human face on science in “Eurekas and Euphorias: The Oxford Book of Scientific Anecdotes,” reels out a historical pageant of science and pseudoscience teeming with remarkable characters who have advanced (and retarded) knowledge about what makes humans thrive.

The faddists on soapboxes are especially amusing, including vegetarians who denounce eating meat as ungodly and an anti-vegetarian cleric who answers that God attached white tails to rabbits to make them easier targets. Gratzer asserts that fashion, not science, rules contemporary diet advice, and he enjoys eviscerating the “gruesome” Duke rice diet, the “probably dangerous” Scarsdale diet and the “grossly unbalanced” Atkins diet.

More here.  [There is also a slide show which includes the picture of Dr. Robert Atkins above.]