Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Dr Smith’s Shred Diet, shredded

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I recently came across something in which Dr Oz was extolling the benefits of Dr Ian Smith’s “Shred Diet”. Naturally, if Dr Oz is promoting something I tend to be suspicious. I’m also suspicious of any miracle diet books.

Looking at Dr Smith’s website, one of the first things I notice is the number of books he’s written. There are eight in total, six of which are diet books. I can’t help but wonder: if this Shred Diet is so amazing, why would he need five other books promoting equally miraculous diets? Not being willing to invest the money or time to purchase and read all of these books I can only speculate that there is nothing particularly miraculous about any of them. Sure, most people will probably lose weight if they follow the diets prescribed in any of the books but are they going to keep that weight off? Probably not. Dr Smith doesn’t know you, your lifestyle, and the foods you like and dislike. Unless he’s lucky enough to have recommended foods and an eating pattern that you enjoy, odds are you’re not going to stick with his diet forever and when you stop you’ll likely gain any weight you lost back. Sorry to be such a downer. I just hate seeing people throw money away on things like these over-hyped books that only Dr Smith truly gains from. The Shred Diet only lasts for six weeks. Presuming you’re going to continue living past the end of the diet, what will you eat then?

I was also a little curious about Dr Smith himself. What’s his background? How did he come to be such a prolific peddler of diet books? His website is not remotely enlightening. All it tells us is that he’s a celebrity who wrote a bunch of books, has appeared on a number of television talk shows, has started a couple of national “health initiatives”, and was recently appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition. No mention of where he attended medical school, what type of medicine he specialized in and practice(d). Searching a little more I found some of the answers on this old Junkfood Science blog post (I recommend reading the entire post for more insight into celebrity doctors, specifically Dr Smith, and their diets). Here’s the key bit of information that I was looking for:

He received his M.D. credential from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, a 4-year pass-fail curriculum, but there is no note that he ever went on to do the three to seven more years of residency training in order to practice medicine, or any additional fellowship training for any specialty. He is not listed as having a license to practice in Illinois or New York, the states he has listed as residing, or as having a membership in the American Medical Association.

If you’re looking to lose weight please don’t trust a celebrity (regardless of whether or not there’s an MD after their name). Go to your doctor, get a referral to a dietitian, talk to an actual person who has training in weight management and will take the time to get to know you and your needs.