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Can anything stop the low-carb culture? Not likely anytime soon. It will be years before we have conclusive long-term research on health risks. The arrival of big food companies in this fray means big money is at play and low-carb living will be marketed with a vengeance. The undisputed benefit of low-carb products to diabetics means a durable customer base. And extreme weight-loss methods like having your stomach stapled--though it worked for lovable TV weatherman Al Roker--have proved ineffective for up to 20% of those who tried them. So the fast results and pure simplicity of cutting carbs promise lasting appeal.
That is, until we get sick of it. In the end, the biggest risk to the culture may be the inevitable false or misleading low-carb claims and influx of products that ladle on heapings of calories in exchange for carbs. If enough people are seduced by these foods and fail to lose weight, low carbs will go the way of low fat: a strategy that works when you stick to the rules but fails when marketers rush in with promises no one can keep. --With reporting by Julie Rawe, Alice Park and Daren Fonda/New York; Wendy Cole/Chicago; Jeanne DeQuine/Miami; Rita Healy/Denver; Marc Hequet/St. Paul; Hilary Hylton/Austin; Laura A. Locke/San Francisco; and Sean Scully/Los Angeles