Dukan Diet: The real reason French stay so thin?

It's become a cliché to say French women are known for their beauty and style, but that doesn't change the fact. Is it genetics? Voodoo? No it is not. <br><br>So how do they have their chocolate croissant and eat it too? Avoid the gym and wear a size 6 into middle age? It's mostly in the way they think about their lives, it seems. Plus a few rules.<br><br>These thoughts have been chronicled in countless books and magazine articles through the decades (most recently in the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/fashion/15French.html">New York Times</a>), but we've broken down the finer points for you.<br>

(CBS) What's the real reason French women stay so thin? We actually have no idea, but if you believe the smooth words of the diet industry's latest pitch man, it's a diet he stumbled upon by accident four decades ago.

The man in question is Dr. Pierre Dukan, a 69-year-old neurologist whose books have already sold millions of copies and been translated into 14 languages.

Now Dukan is set to bring his gospel to America.

"My dear friends, today I am reaching out to you with the certainty that I can help you put an end to the inevitability of weight problems in North America," he wrote in the preface of the American edition, according to the New York Times.

We sure hope so. With up to one third of Americans overweight or obese and type-2 diabetes on the rise, helping us drop a few pounds would be a welcome piece of cross-Atlantic good will.

But critics call Dukan's plan either an Atkins retread or an unhealthy fad.

"This is just another one of those diets invented by a charismatic individual who makes a lot of promises and has loads of testimonials but is not based on any scientific data whatsoever," Frank Sacks, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at Harvard, told the Times.

The basics are a high-protein, low-fat approach, lots of water, all the oat-bran you can eat, lots of veggies, no fruit, and a few wine and desert days to make it all livable.

The exercise requirement sounds light enough for most Americans - 20 minutes of walking and no elevators.

Does any of this work? Supermodel Giselle Bundchen and Kate Middleton's mom thinks so, according to the Boston Globe, but you should probably decide for yourself.

More at the New York Times
More at the Boston Globe