Pill and not protein diet could be reason why Dukan clients lost weight
The French doctor who sold 11 million diet books gave his own patients a drug that has killed thousands
Pierre Dukan: diet millionaire banned from practising for eight days and fined €6,000 over drug
The book by French diet “guru” Pierre Dukan, which has topped 11 million sales in 20 countries, claims that his complicated four-stage protein-rich diet is the secret to getting and staying slim. As it turns out, the true reason why his French patients actually lost weight and kept it off was a potentially lethal pill, Mediator, an amphetamine-derivative that has been linked to as many as 2,000 deaths in France.
Dukan (72) last week was banned from practising as a GP for eight days by France’s medical board, which was more of an insult than a censure, since Dukan removed himself from the register last year and no longer practises as a GP.
He was also ordered to pay €6,000 in damages to a former patient who developed heart problems after being prescribed Mediator for weight loss, despite the drug being intended only for the treatment of diabetes.
He wasn’t the first, as 100 other doctors were also disciplined. Jacques Seviers, the founder of the Seviers biopharmaceutical company that produced Mediator, has been charged in France with “aggravated fraud” after allegedly concealing its harmful effects.
The Dukan publishing and web-sales phenomenon has an annual turnover of €38 million. Dukan has stated that, after 42 years working with millions of people on the diet, he had “never heard of anybody’s health suffering”.
The most telling effects of the Dukan diet are constipation, bad breath, dry mouth and fatigue due to the restricted nature of the menu, which starts with protein-only days and a promised 7lb weight loss in the first week.
The diet simply doesn’t work, claimed a rival French doctor, Jean-Michel Cohen, prompting Dukan to take a libel action, which he lost in 2011.
Describing the Dukan diet as a “bandwagon of fantasy”, Cohen stated that only the slimming industry and pill salesmen benefited from it.
The scandal exposes not only Dukan and his colleagues, but also the false hopes of the diet industry itself. Millions have tried the complicated and highly restricted Dukan four-stage diet after hearing that it supposedly worked for Kate Middleton, Katherine Jenkins and Giselle Bundchen; as if any of these women were actually ever overweight.
The latest revelations are yet more evidence that fad diets aren’t all they seem and may even be detrimental , not least by depriving dieters of nutrients.
Condemned by nutritionists of the American and British Dietetic Associations, the Dukan diet also gets the thumbs-down from the Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute. Spokeswoman Paula Mee says: “In the short term people may experience similar side effects to the Atkins diet . This is because, when we don’t eat carbohydrates, the body switches to burning fat as its primary source of fuel. This results in the production of substances called ketones, which can cause bad breath, weakness, dizziness, insomnia and nausea.”
Such symptoms explain Dukan’s advice to avoid exercise, contrary to sound practice. “This diet-plan may also lead to nutritional deficiencies, as it is unbalanced. It makes no sense to tell people to eat less fruit and veg.”
While fad diets may take the weight off, they don’t teach you how to keep it off. If you want to maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and lose fat, then the best approach is a life-long combination of eating smarter and moving more, Mee advises. “My advice: give the Dukan diet a miss.”