Diet guru Atkins was obese

By Deborah Condon

The man who developed the controversial Atkins diet was obese and had heart disease when he died last year, according to his pathology report.

Dr Robert Atkins (72) died from head injuries in April 2003, after falling on an icy pavement in New York. His diet advocates an increased consumption of protein, found in foods such as meat and dairy products, while severely restricting carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and rice.

Dr Robert Atkins

However according to the medical report on his death, which was leaked to the Wall Street Journal, Dr Atkins weighed just over 18 stone (116kg) at the time of his death. As he was 6ft tall, this means that according to American guidelines, he was clinically obese.

The report also shows that Dr Atkins had a history of heart problems.

Despite proving popular with many people throughout the world, a number of health professionals have expressed concern about the long-term health implications of the diet.

Dr Atkins' widow, Veronica, has strongly criticised the leaking of her late husband's pathology report. While acknowledging that he had developed the heart condition, cardiomyopathy, three years before his death, she denies that Dr Atkins had a heart attack, as indicated in the report.

"Let me state emphatically that I have been assured by my husband's physicians that his health problems late in life were completely unrelated to his diet or any diet", she said.

She hit out at the 'unscrupulous individuals who continue to twist and pervert the truth in an attempt to destroy the reputation and great work of my husband'.


Anonymous - 12/02/2004 20:06

I am so sick and tired of all these doctors and nutrionists condeming the atkins way of life . If some of yhese people actually took the the time to read the books they would realise that it is NOT all fry ups and steaks .You must restrict in the first two weeks only andyou must have salads And veg also .Icannot understand the ignorance of some "experts"that think they know all the answers because they read it in a book .If they really wanted information dr atkins has being investigating this way for more than 30years .If the low fat diet is so wonderful how am I an overweight ex weight watcher ,unislimmer ,gym member,? because it do`sent work .well I`ve lost 2 stone effortlessly you can`t tell me low carbing isnt the way to go wether its the Zone , south beach or atkins they have found theproper way and its not starvation and artificial flavoured "FOOD"

Anonymous - 19/02/2004 12:32

I heard that Dr Atkins was a healthy weight when admitted to hospital after his fall but after some time in a coma became obese due to a build up of fluid which is normal in that state. His heart disease was virus related rather than diet related. I have lost 2.5 stone following the Atkins 'Diet' and have kept it off by following the lifetime maintenance plan. I don't eats tons of fat but lots of fish, lean meat, veggies, salads and whole meal grains which if anyone takes the trouble to read the book will know is what Dr. Atkins advocates.

Mairead(MagsD) - 19/02/2004 14:56

I am anything but a Dr Atkins fan and I have no time for his highly saturated fat diet BUT please do not report stories inaccurately to justify your own means. It has been widely reported that when Dr Atkins had the fall he was a healthy average weight and as the commentator above said, after a period of time he retained excess fluid which caused the weight gain. Lets not twist the storiest just to suit our own agendas!

Anonymous - 19/02/2004 15:05

Yes it was widely reported by people acting for the good doctor's wife that he was a normal weight and put on something like 90 pounds while in a coma for about 10 days. I'm no doctor but I've never heard of anyone putting on over six stone from being in a coma 4 a coupel of days.

Anonymous - 19/02/2004 15:10

I'm sure that there are plenty people out there who would swear by the Atkins diet, but the way I see it, the human body has developed over thousands of years to take energy from a combination of protein, carbohydrate and fat. Any diet that completely cuts out one of these can't be good for you in the long run.

Anonymous - 19/02/2004 15:11

I don't know enough about the Atkins diet to be able to comment too much but do know that Dr Atkins is reported to have studied nutrition seriously, and I would be very surprised to discover that he was obese due to his or any diet. I would have to agree that his weight at his death must have been due to other health issues - not everything is as a result of what we eat! I am tempted to try, on a short term basis, his diet. Can anyone recommend the best (and easiest to understand) Atkins book to follow?

Anonymous - 03/03/2004 01:29

As a doctor who has seen and examined patients who have been on the Atkins diet for up to eight years I saw tremendous benefits.Not only was their weight loss but there was a remarkable improvement in cholesterol profiles despite those artery clogging fats.There was significant bias in the recent so called trials done by a lady English.researcher I think her name was Webb.I have never got to see these so called trials but do know she was paid by the flour millers association of the U.K.It would appear that all she published was the conclusion likely written by the spin doctors fot the flour millers association,.No journal published any results of her trial.All the trials done in recent years in the U.S. were published and positive.They were also the most extensive trials that were done to date.It is not for everyone however and an examination should be done by a Dr before starting it.Unfortunately Doctors know nothing about the diet and their misplaced prejudices prevents people from having the appropiate tests done and the proper follow up.This is a tragedy that we are rejecting one of the treatments that could reduce the ever increasing obesity problem and its disastrous consequences

Anonymous - 03/03/2004 11:40

I am currently on the Atkins diet, and have lost 9 pounds, and am hoping to lose another 30 pounds. I am doing it through E-Diets on the internet. I have never eat so much fresh food, as before Atkins, I was living on sugar filled processed food. On the Atkins, you have to cut out sugar, and as most processed foods have sugar, I am eating healthy fresh food. I feel good inside and out. How can that be bad for you??

Anonymous - 05/03/2004 15:35

So what if Atkins was overweight. It has been proven time and again that "dieting" is a short term messure to lose weight. When the diet is over, the people put back on the weight and the diet is said to not have worked. Forget diets, look for a way of life that will gradually get the weight off you until you reach your target/healthy weight and then slightly modify your way of life again to sustain that weight level.

Anonymous - 21/04/2004 15:05

Dr. Atkins weighed 192lbs at the time of his fall. He had a form of cardiomyopathy which greatly compromised heart pumping action during his coma and gradually built up about 60lbs of fluid. This is not unusual and was not treated because his outlook was poor from the start due to severe brain damage caused by the blow to the occipital region of his head (just above the ear). Anon is correct. Diets are for temporary weight loss. The Atkins "diet" is really entitled Dr. Atkins Nutrition Breakthrough and that is what it is. It breaks through the dogma of the medical establishment and shows people how to eat a healthy diet. When you consider that organized medicine, like any other enterprise, will always act in its own economic interest, can it be surprising that doctors don't like Atkins?

Anne(anneog) - 21/04/2004 15:43

Like Anon 19/02/04 above, I am considering trying the Aitkins diet but am confused by the number of books out there. Can someone recommend the simplist and best one to follow? Thanks in advance!

leanne(HFC12908) - 27/04/2004 02:37

i tried the atkins diet but i found it so hard to get some all i was eating was meat ,meat and meat oh ...and eggs and cheese and nuts.there are be no treats on this diet as i recall.i just found it so hard , i was tried all the time no energy at all. have anyone had a better time of it ,perhaps i should give it another go.

Anonymous - 21/08/2004 10:54

I am on the Atkins eating plan at the moment and have lost around 2 stone (I stopped weighing myself all the time, just once a month ao so). My sister has lost over 4 stone since January following it, and she looks and feels fantastic. It is easier to follow because you genuinely don't feel hungry while following it. And contrary to the media hype, it is not all about fry-ups and huge meals: it is about re-educating your mind and body and eating fresh, good quality, unprocessed food. The misleading discussions in the media are frightening: anyone who reads the book (readily available in Easons and other bookstores, and I mean READS the WHOLE book, will see that the advice is far removed from the nonsense printed and hyped in the media. Horizon recently had a very good programme on about Atkins, including an examination of all the various trials, tests and theories regarding it, and the programme concluded that this was an eating plan that confounded received medical/dietary wisdom in that people on a seemingly unrestricted protein/fat intake actually lost plenty of weight quite quickly and easily, AND THEIR OVERALL HEALTH, INCLUDING THEIR CHOLESTEROL LEVELS, IMPROVED SIGNIFICANTLY. These trials and tests were carried out by people who were essentially sceptical about Atkins, and even they repeated "facts" from the book that were inaccurate or incorrect. Tha final tests revealed that people following Atkins simply, and automatically, ate LESS than those following a low-fat, high-carb diet,despite their access to protein and fat being unrestricted. Most recent conclusions suggest that it is the protein that actually plays a significant role in suppressing appetite: if you eat enough good quality protein you will simply eat less all round, and be less bothered by food, not constantly think about what you can eat next. Atkins focusses on eating plenty of good fresh protein combined with fresh vegetables, and later, nuts, seeds etc. Consumption of higher carb foods like cheese IS restricted in the earlier stages, as is the use of cream etc, and it is not a "diet" on which you can massively indulge in a "goodies" free-for-all, unlike some commentators would have you believe. No sugar, no white bread or flour, no processed foods,emphasis on whole foods, including complex carbs particularly in later stages -- fruit, veg, whole grains --,does it sound like the Atkins Diet you keep being force-fed through the media...?

Anne(anneog) - 23/08/2004 07:53

To Anonymous 21/08/2004 10:54 - I was delighted to read your message. I too have read the book cover to cover and agree with all you said. Maybe you can help me out on something though. I started Atkins Induction just 2 weeks ago today. I lost 5/6 lbs the 1st week but have only lost 1/2 lbs this week. Where can I be going wrong? I must admit I am finding it hard to see what I can eat and how to get variety e.g. for breakfast... at the mom it is either 2/3 egg omlette or rashers, sausages with mushrooms (probably having too much of this!). Lunch is a few slices of chicken or turkey (think I am making mistake here as it is presliced stuff you buy at meat counter) with some cheese and some salad. Dinner is meat or fish (chops, steak, pork, salmon)again with either salad or buttered veg (from the allowed veg list). I am not hungry and am drinking loads of water. No tea or coffee or diet drinks at all. I would love it if there was an Atkins web site that is geared towards Europeans rather than Americans or even a support group site that I could go to for info. Have you any advice for me on this?

Anonymous - 27/09/2004 22:55

To Anne, I know you posted your message a while ago, but just to let you know that sometimes you reach a weight platau, I took Atkins vitamins and Atkins Eccel which certainly seemed to do the trick for me when my weight stalled, you are better eating only meat you cook yourself unless the ingredients are listed and if you buy it sliced at a deli counter you can' be sure it is suger and lactose free, also I would'nt eat sausages during induction, theres no European Atkins support site that I know of, I hope you perservered with it and are now delighted with the new you, I must say I am fed up (pardon the pun) with nutritionists and scientists saying they dont know the long term effects of such a low carb diet, surely as the Atkins has been around for almost thirty years thats long term enough to know what if any side effects there are,I certainly feel that any diet that is purported to lower cholestrol is worth trying rather than taking statins for life, surely a low carb diet in the short term and switching to wholewheats, fresh foods and staying away from all refined and processed foods including trans fats (margerine) is a healthier diet than most people enjoy at the moment, I am currently on the Atkins Diet and its fantastic, it has taken me so long to lose weight on low fat diets

Anne(anneog) - 28/09/2004 11:04

To Anonymous 27/09/2004 22:55 Thanks for your tips and support. Great to get it! I stuck with Atkins for a few more weeks and lost more weight but then fell and broke a bone in my foot and tore ligaments so was unable to look after myself for a few weeks. Needless to say my good man was happy to look after me but due to his work hours was only into opening packets and tins and making sandwiches etc so a lot of my good work went out the window. Strangely enough though I am happy to have had that experience because I found when I was eating that stuff again my stomach was in bits (and no, I wasn't on any strong painkillers or other medication) and my sleep pattern etc went to bits so it was only then I realised just how much better I felt when I was on Atkins. I am now starting it again and will happily take on the good points you have given me for induction. I am actually looking forward to it! One thing though, where do you get the Atkins vitamins and what is Atkins Eccel?? Any other pointers you have for meal suggestions would be great too! I do hope you can respond to my query. Thanks again.

Anonymous - 01/10/2004 17:31

Hi Anne, I hope you made a full recovery, I misspelled the Atkins vitamin that helps with a weight plateau its Accel and you can buy it in any Boots store or Natures way which is the cheapest place to buy all Atkins products, theres bars and a bread mix which though its not great, it gives you more freedom cause you could have a sandwich, I can relate to your experiences when you were off the diet as I found the same thing, particularly my tummy, I could never press my tummy as it was always sore but thats changed and no matter how hard I press it, its never sore, when I cook fish or meat I make a sauce with the juice using fresh cream, onions, oregano, mushrooms and parsley and sometimes I throw in the veggie I'm having and it's delicious, theres also precooked crispy rashers you can buy in marks and spencers and you can eat them cold they're delicious, it's best to stick very closely to the induction phase, you can eat the morning bars and advantage shakes and bars during this phase, it helps to have something nice, you can also have the bread during this phase as well so it helps, if you go out for a meal tell the waiter you're on atkins, I've tried this and found most places very accommodating, pub grub is also great as you can just get the meat and veg and put some butter and maybe pepper on them, I hope this helps and good luck with the induction phase I am just finishing my fourth week on induction and them I'll taper off a bit but after all this I'm going to think very hard about ever eating sugery, refined and processed foods again

Marina(marc3) - 02/10/2004 00:40

Hi Anne, sorry, I only just got notification of your post. Sorry to hear of your mishap, hope all's well again. It sounds like you're not eating enough on your version of the diet -- and steer clear of deli meat unless you're certain it's sugar-free: most of it is loaded with sugar! check the labels. Try E-diets website if you're looking for group support and advice; although I think their actual food plan isn't very good, you might like the chats. I love the bar charts they create for you! I'm struggling at the moment, yo-yoing a little. Once you break it at all it's very difficult to get back into it properly. But I think it's worth persevering. My sister looks fantastic and nothing has ever worked so well for her. The Atkins Nutritional Supplements are vitamin formulas: they're very expensive and good multivit will do you just as well. Accel is a product you use for a few days to help if you've a high resistance metabolism: they're nearly pure caffeine so take them at your own risk. Boots sell them and they're available through the Atkins site, or possibly from E-Diets. I don't understand the logic of that though, as we're advised to steer clear of caffeine. Best of luck!

Anne(anneog) - 04/10/2004 11:28

Hi there and thanks so much for your responses. I am on the diet again and not doing too badly, a bit yo-yo too! I don't seem to have the same determination as I had previously so I think I need to psych myself up again for awhile before getting fully back into the swing of it. I do great 6 days of the week then fall down on the 7th! Needless to say I am full of remorse and angry with myself afterwards but am graduating towards having a more positive attitude and starting out properly again. Anonymous 1/10/04 17:31 and Marina 2/10/04 00:40, thanks so much for the ideas and info. I didn't know you could get Atkins bars and bread mix etc here. Its wonderful to know there is something to jazz up the diet a little from time to time and its particularly good to know about the Accel and thanks for the warning about what it is - I'll be careful. I have looked at the e-diets site but thought you had to become a paying member to partake in the info/chats? I've stocked up on meat, chicken, turkey and salmon so I can cook plenty and have cold meats etc the following day instead of using deli stuff. I'll keep you informed as I go along and hopefully it will be to report that the weight is falling off me! Best of luck to you also, keep it going.

Marina(marc3) - 07/10/2004 01:33

Hi Anne, best of luck, and stick with it, it'll be worth it! Yes, I think you do have to be a paying member of that site to chat and you may not think it's necessary. Keep us informed about how you get on though. Marina

Mike(RXD25995) - 16/03/2005 20:47

Hi, I lost 8 inches off my waist in under 6 months, That was 18 months ago and I've kept it off. Like those above I don't eat loads of saturated fats (just because cream isn't fattening you don't have to have it every day), I eat a healthy balance of Fish, Fowl, Meat and loads of veg.

fifi - 06/12/2005 15:32

Pure rubbish. Our diets need to be balanced. Cutting out carbs is crazy. Its what gives us our energy to function. Anyone I knew struggling through the atkins diet for a couple of weeks were prone to bad mood swings, were lethargic & oh yeah, their breath was manky!

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