For years, overweight celebrities such as Shelley Winters and Buddy Hackett flocked to the residential weight loss facility in Durham known as the Rice Diet Center. Now, however, the facility has closed its doors and stopped offering its trademark white rice and fruit diet regimen, reported the New York Daily News on September 10.
Although the extremely low calorie plan worked, interest in such diets has been replaced by the popularity of low-carbohydrate, high protein plans such as the Paleo diet.
"Most people simply cannot follow low-calorie diets for extended periods, much less their lifetimes, as they are continually hungry," said Loren Cordain, author of "The Paleo Diet Revised: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat," which bans grains such as rice and advocates protein and veggies.
In addition, Loren contends that diets such as the Paleo plan are more palatable because they reduce appetite and help dieters stay full. "Hence the tenets of the Rice Diet are inconsistent with the best science of the 21st century," he added.
A spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics linked the failure of the center to the fact that it's been around for 70 years, and everyone wants the newest trend.
"The thing about nutrition is you blink your eyes and things change. People are looking for the freshest, the hottest, the latest, the greatest. The Rice Diet is nutritionally sound," said Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Because it's not the latest and the greatest, I'm wondering if it kind of fell out of popularity."
Hoping to help restore the rice diet's original popularity is John Aycoth. He plans to open the Rice House Healthcare Program based on similar principles. And it won't be cheap. His plans include the investment of one million dollars for the building, furnishings and hiring of Dr. Frank Neelon, the former medical director of the Rice Diet Program.
John plans to make money on the revived diet center by charging cash-only patients $6,000 for their first month of food, classes and medical oversight.
Want to try it but can't pay the fat fee? Kitty Rosati, wife of the original Rice Diet Center owner Dr. Robert Rosati, authored a variety of books detailing how to follow the diet. Among the ones still available are "The Rice Diet Renewal: A Healing 30-Day Program for Lasting Weight Loss" (click for details) and "The Rice Diet Cookbook: 150 Easy, Everyday Recipes and Inspirational Success Stories from the Rice Diet Program Community."