The Atkins diet is the latest high profile weight loss programme in a growing range of diets suggesting the best way to become thin. Are these crash diets healthy?

Despite warnings from medical experts that the health consequences of Atkins and other high profile diets are not yet known, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide haven't been deterred.

Many people are drawn to these diets through celebrity endorsement with Catherine Zita Jones allegedly a fan of the Atkins diet, Madonna the macrobiotic diet, and Posh Spice the Zone Diet.  

The Dr Atkins book has been on the bestseller's list at Hodges Figgis in Dublin for the last year, just one of hundreds of diet books.  

Every magazine you open at the moment has at least one article on losing weight.

Jennifer Stevens of Woman's Way magazine states that diets sell magazines. 

There's a big celebrity thing that you have to live up to. People are really going for diets big time.

Marie Murray, Director of Psychology in St Vincent's Psychiatric Hospital, points to a juxtaposition of images from the overweight, lazy and slovenly, to the active and controlled. 

Despite the obsession with being thin, obesity in Ireland has increased by almost seventy per cent between 1990 and 2000.

For Margo Brennan of the Nutrition and Dietetic Institute,

The more crash diets you go on, the fatter you become.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 21 August 2003. The reporter is Sari Houlihan.