'The obese have a mental problem'

No stranger to controversy, Dr Pierre Dukan, author of <i>The Dukan Diet</i>, has labelled overweight people as having a "mental problem".
No stranger to controversy, Dr Pierre Dukan, author of The Dukan Diet, has labelled overweight people as having a "mental problem".

Would you take dieting advice from a man who has branded the obese as "mentally ill"?

If you have tried the smash-hit Dukan diet, you already have.

Dr Pierre Dukan, the millionaire author behind the best-selling nutrition books has said that the heavily overweight have "a mental problem".

He told the Mail on Sunday's You magazine: "I've never seen an obese person who has said, 'I am well in the mind.'"

The infamous doctor admits that he feels for the audience to which his books are targetted. "I suffer for them ... I like them because they are not really ill, like with the cancer, but feel they are outside of society.... I want to help."

He suggested that love may be the best dieting mechanism around (besides his plan, we presume): "Happiness stops food being a compensation. If you love a man, immediately you will reduce your intake of food – it’s automatic."

The Duchess of Cambridge's Berkshire-based mother, Carole Middleton, reportedly lost 34lbs using the controversial Dukan method, which sees a high-protein intake based around 100 permitted foods, with dieters instructed to phase the programme around four 'pillars'.

Launched in France in 2000, The Dukan Diet hit Australian bookshops in 2010 and has gone on to sell over 100,000 copies.

Similar to the equally contentious Atkins diet, as well as ketogenic and Weight Watchers diets, the programme has drawn wide-spread criticism, not least from French, British and American health bodies.

The diet was ranked 24th out of 25 in a best diets of 2012 list drawn up by US News and Health Report. Blasted for being too restrictive and rule-driven as well as bereft of medical evidence, one expert went as far as labelling the plan "idiotic".

But the diet author, who removed himself from the French medical register in May after being threatened for announcing that teenagers who maintain healthy weights should be given better school grades, remains unperturbed. "I am convinced deeply that for now, mine is the best [diet] on the market: it is the most healthy and the most ethical" he told You.

"My allowed foods are the foods of the old genes, the fruit of the hunter gatherer, the fish and vegetable."

As well as offending the overweight, Dukan did little for international relations. "We ’ave 22 million who are overweight and six and a half million obese, a little bit more man than woman. But yes, Frenchwomen resist better than Americans: when a Frenchwoman starts to put on pounds, she stops immediately. She has an allergy to weight'", he told Liz Jones in the interview.

Despite the criticism, Dukan's diet book topped the iTunes book chart until being knocked from the number one spot by the bizarre and faddish OMG diet, which condones missing breakfast and having a cold bath before a cup of coffee each morning.

This story 'The obese have a mental problem' first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.