This news item was created by students Susan Harris, Jacqueline Ivey, Josh Fitzmaurice, Alex Stinard, Matt Wenzel and Jim Watt as part of their Chemistry 212 Collaborative Group Activities in WS00 under the guidance of Prof. Rainer Glaser.

Glaser's "Chemistry is in the News"
To Accompany Wade Organic Chemistry 4/e.
Chapter 23. Carbohydrates and Nucleic Acids.

For each of the following questions, please refer to the following article:

By Hallie Levine (New York Post, August 30, 1999)

Editorial Comments

America is currently in a health frenzy. The drive to look and feel good is an important goal for most Americans. Quick weight loss is in great demand, and fad diets have emerged to fulfill the void. Fad diets are incredibly popular because they promise immediate weight loss. Millions of Americans have adopted Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution in an attempt to lose weight. A low carbohydrate diet is employed to drastically reduce the pounds. However, contrary to popular belief, cutting carbohydrates from one's diet can have dire consequences such as damaged kidneys, hair loss, fatigue, bad breath, and dehydration.

The diet outlined in the book Atkins's New Diet Revolution has dieters cut carbohydrates out of their diets. Breads, pastas, beans, even fruits and vegetables are reduced in an effort to lower carbohydrate in the body. Carbohydrates are a class of polyhydroxy aldehydes and ketones. The basic formula for carbohydrates (also known as carbos) are Cn(H2O)n. Humans use carbohydrates as a source of energy utilized in the metabolic pathway. In theory dieters on the Atkin's diet burn fat rather than carbohydrates for energy. An abnormal metabolic pathway refereed to as ketosis results when the body uses fat as a primary source of energy. In this state of ketosis, ketones accumulate in the body faster than they can be reduced by NADH. This abnormally large quantity of ketones can cause adverse effects such as bad breath, nausea, and constipation. As a result of the bodies effort to reduce ketones in the blood stream sodium and potassium are also reduced. The low amount of sodium and potassium ions in the body can cause dehydration. The low level of these ions can also create irregular heartbeats by effecting the hyper-polarization and depolarization of the cardiac muscles. Thus, the ketosis caused by the lack of carbohydrates results in many detrimental effects on the body.

The quick weight loss experienced by most people on the Atkin's diet is due mostly from the loss of water. One of the functions of carbohydrates is to hold water in the body. After carbohydrates are removed by dieters, rapid weight loss is experienced because fewer carbohydrates are present to hold water. Once the individual reincorporates carbohydrates back into their diet the weight is soon regained.

Americans entering the 21st century are concerned about their health more than in the past. Fast weight lost has become a quick and attractive solution to many overweight individuals. The promises made by Dr. Robert Atkins New Diet Revolution book has incited false beliefs in a dieting method that is actually detrimental to the future of one's health. True weight loss can only occur when one burns more calories than they intake. In order for this to be done in a healthy manner a maximum of one pound should be lost per week. This can be done through proper diet management, and regular exercise.

Pertinent Text References
Chapter 18. Ketones and Aldyhydes: pg. 785-786, Reduction of Ketones: pg. 809-810
Chapter 19. Carbohydrates: pg. 1060


Question 1: Name the most abundant organic compound in nature. What is the common name of the basic form of this compound? Draw the Fischer projection and the Lewis structure.

Question 2: What enzyme complex reduces ketones? Write the reaction for the reduction of ketones.

Question 3: What are the negative effects of cutting all carbohydrates from your diet and using proteins as an alternate energy source?

Question 4:Animal cells create energy with glucose and oxygen. Two products from this reaction are energy and carbon dioxide. What is the other product?

Question 5: Is immediate satisfication (weight loss) worth the health risks associated with Dr. Atkins diet?