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July 2003

The Unwelcome Return of the Acne Diet

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Arch Dermatol. 2003;139(7):940-941. doi:10.1001/archderm.139.7.940-a

Commenting on the subject of remarriage, Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) called it a triumph of hope over experience. His wisdom might well apply to dermatology's renewed interest in a possible diet-acne connection as proposed in the article "Acne Vulgaris: A Disease of Western Civilization."1

This observation presents an unbalanced comparison of processed snack foods with primitive dietary staples, implying that all westerners consume higher glycemic loads than do natives of nonindustrialized countries. In fact, contrasted with the high meat and dairy content of the US diet, primitive diets often derive a greater share of total calories from starchy foods like boiled rice, corn products, potatoes, and refined flour. Thus, American teens not inclined toward sweets and soft drinks probably consume relatively low glycemic loads yet still are acne prone.2