02/14/04 — Dr. Atkins: His gaining of weight doesn’t discredit diet

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Dr. Atkins: His gaining of weight doesn’t discredit diet

Even doctors disagree on whether it would be healthy to stay on the low-carbohydrate Atkins Diet for a long time. But one thing is certain: There is no room in the debate for half-truths.

No doubt, the diet promoted by the late Dr. James Atkins has been a blessing to many people. Inasmuch as it has helped reduce obesity in this country, it probably has saved lives.

Because Atkins dieters eat a lot of meat, however, the diet is opposed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of animals and by its sister organization, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The PCRM has claimed that Atkins himself was 60 pounds overweight.

Atkins died last April of head injuries a week after he slipped on ice while walking to work in New York. Surgeons removed a blood clot, but he lapsed into a coma from which he never recovered.

Atkins was 72 and suffered from heart disease. According to Dr. Stuart Trager, chairman of the Atkins Physicians Council, the heart disease stemmed from cardiomyopathy, a condition that was thought to result from a viral infection. Atkins' weight was due to bloating and water-retention associated with his condition and with the time he spent in a coma after his head injury.

Trager said that due to water retention, Atkins’ weight varied between 180 and 195 pounds. “During his coma, as he deteriorated and his major organs failed, fluid retention and bloating dramatically distorted his body and left him at 258 pounds at the time of his death, a documented weight gain of over 60 pounds,” Trager said.

So while he may have been 60 pounds overweight at the time of his death, it had nothing to do with his diet.


Published in Editorials on February 14, 2004 11:55 PM