The Rice Diet was started in 1939 by Dr. Walter Kempner in Durham, North Carolina. It specializes in weight loss now but was originally designed for the purpose of heart disease treatment and control. In addition to achieving world-wide success and notoriety for taking weight off the most resistant of cases, the Rice Diet is well-known for prevention and treatment of diabetes, kidney disease, hypertension, and of course heart disease.


The dieters travel to Durham and reside there while being treated. Meals are prepared for them and they eat them in several restaurant-like settings that the patients, as well as the locals, call “rice houses.” Even though rice is the staple of the diet (and the dieter may begin with only rice for meals), grains, legumes, fish, and fresh vegetables and fruit are available, added gradually to the diet. The initial menu is more limited but then introduces a variety of foods as the diet continues and if the dieter is meeting her goals. An important component of the Rice Diet is that salt and fat are restricted to 150 milligrams of sodium and 5 grams of fat or less per day.

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