With Atkins diet company bankrupt, what’s the next weight loss fad? We have an idea, but you will have to wait.

First, let me start by saying that we know we have been remiss about posting on the blog. Tomorrow, there will be a blow-by-blow account of our California trip.

Until then, let me just throw out a little something. I was shocked to hear that Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. declared bankruptcy. Not because I’m surprised that the number of people on low-carb diets has plunged, but because the plunge was so utterly predictable. How in the world can the folks who run that company not have expected this diet to come and go like, say, every other diet that has ever existed? Their web site is here. I wonder what TGIFridays strategy will be with their Atkins menu items?

Despite the complaints from readers that there is already an unhealthy emphasis on this blog about what Dubner and I have to eat, let me just tell you that we are both trying out a top secret diet that is very Freakonomics-y. Neither of us even needs to lose weight; it is just such a fascinating theory of weight loss that we wanted to try it out for fun. I cannot provide details yet, but we expect to write about it in the not too distant future.


You bought up all the pills they sell on Ebay and did a chemical analysis and found that they're all sugar pills.

Just kidding

Chris Mealy

The Seth Roberts Diet!


Does it have to do with incentives? You each pay the other one the cost of food purchased so it's effectively double the cost?

Or, if you eat too much, you just have to watch an A's game and eat crow?


Trying on the Vanishing Point Diet? (Where you you eat vast quantities of redolent food (Limburger cheese and ripe durian work well) and you appear to have grown smaller since now everyone views you from a great distance.)


Eatless, exercise more; never goes out of style.


I'm guessing that the somewhat less extreme and more palatable South Beach Diet beat them out of the low carb market. I was taught that being the first mover is not always an advantage; sometimes the first mover makes all the mistakes and it is a later entrant into the field that reaps all the benefits.

Jonathan Schwartz

I heard about the best diet years ago on the Don and Mike radio show. You can eat anything you want but you have to eat with your shirt off while looking in the mirror.

Somerset Frisby

The problem with the Atkins diet is that you can never go off it; you'll gain the weight back quickly. Does anybody really want to go through the rest of their lives on an Atkins diet?

Matt Hertz

The only diet that has ever worked for an indefinite period and will continue to work indefinitely is the diet that states that 'you'll lose weight if you consume fewer calories than you burn'. It's very simple. It doesn't matter whether you eat 1000 calories of carrots or 1000 calories of cheesecake...if you burn 1100 calories that day you will lose 100 calories worth of weight. Low fat, low carb, high protein, are all essentially irrelevant regarding one's weight (although they are all relevant regarding one's health) - the only diet that works successfully is to calorie count by consuming fewer than you burn.

Jim Biancolo

Chris Carmichael thinks, dare I say hopes, the next fad diet will be low-glycemic-index based.


"I heard about the best diet years ago on the Don and Mike radio show. You can eat anything you want but you have to eat with your shirt off while looking in the mirror."

That's genius.


It's gotta be high-carb. Sugar for everyone!

Mike Lee

All this diet talk raises questions:

Is obesity a choice or a disease?

If one thinks its a disease, could one blame and sue others for one's choices?

I believe its a rational choice.


Maybe the next diet trend will be the Maria Callas Diet - deliberate tape worm ingestion :)


As your sister, Steven, and I demand that you reveal to me the secrets of your diet! Does it involve family-size bags of Twizzlers? If so, I'm already halfway there. Call me! -- Linda


Hey! You people need one of those functions on your blog that allows people to go back and edit their posts for mistakes in punctuation, syntax, and/or grammar. Embarassingly enough, my previous post contains just such an error. And all you folks who razz Steve about his own frequent mistakes? Please encourage him to take me up on my offer to proofread his posts before they go up, as I am a professional proofreader and copy editor (which I know, given my first post, seems practically unpossible). Steve, I'm not kidding -- call me about that diet thing! Confidential to Freakonomics blog readers: If Steve's own purchasing habits on our recent extended-family vacation are any clue, his top-secret diet involves a cartful of Count Chocula . . .


I'll throw my hat in with the guessers: is it the MarginalRevolution diet?


What about the Diet of Worms?


Breaking News.

Revolutionary NEW Weight Loss Diet.

1. Eat less.
2. Exercise more.

Failing that...
3. Visit a doctor who is handy with a staple gun.


Very good Stcheryl! The Diet of Worms: Martin Luther is called upon to recant to the Holy Roman Emperor and travels to Worms. Instead of being fearful and contrite, Luther travels as if on a victory march, preaching in towns along the way. He gains stature and support, his numbers swell on the way to the Diet.
Very Freakynomic