Reality bites for Pierre Dukan, diet doctor to the stars, as he loses libel battle

Pierre Dukan, French diet doctor to the stars, has lost a libel action against a nutritionist who described the so-called Dukan Diet as dangerous.

The dietician, whose followers include Jennifer Lopez, Johnny Hallyday, Gisele Bündchen and the Middleton family, took exception to an interview given to a French magazine last year in which Dr Jean-Michel Cohen described the protein-heavy diet as a dangerous reheating of old ideas, which can cause heart problems and breast cancer. The plan is followed by millions of people around the world,

Asked who benefited from the Dukan Diet, Dr Cohen said: "The slimming industry, doctors, pill salesmen, publishers, newspapers ... Everyone who has climbed on to the bandwagon of this fantasy."

Dr Dukan's lawyers argued at a hearing in Paris in May that such comments went beyond the normal squabbles between medical rivals. They amounted to a character assassination.

No, they did not, the Tribunal Correctionnel de Paris decided yesterday. Dr Cohen was entitled to express his views under the French constitutional guarantee of free speech.

The court even ordered Dr Dukan to pay €3,000 (£2,700) to his rival for bringing an "abusive" legal action.

The hearing did not judge the rival claims on scientific or health grounds. Yesterday's judgment is, therefore, not a repudiation of the Dukan Diet per se, but a declaration of the rights of other people to criticise it.

After many years in which his ideas were ignored, Dr Dukan's sales exploded three years ago. His diet – similar to the Atkins Diet – starts with an "attack" phase in which the slimmer loses weight rapidly by eating large quantities of low-fat proteins (from veal to fish to no-fat yoghurts). There are three other phases, which gradually reintroduce vegetable and carbohydrates, but the slimmer has to return to the protein-only diet one day a week for the rest of his or her life.

After the ruling Dr Dukan insisted that his methods were safe and healthy and criticised Dr Cohen for ignoring "medical ethics which forbade public criticism of a colleague". He accused Dr Cohen of being jealous. Cohen's rival diet, he said, based on calorie-counting, was part of an approach that had failed to prevent the overweight and obese population of France from rising to 22,000,000.

Dr Cohen's lawyer, Richard Malka, responded: "This was a total defeat for Pierre Dukan."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...

Tradewind Recruitment: History Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Recruitment Genius: Transport Administrator / Planner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee