The Atkins Diet is the most famous, most glamorous and most controversial diet on the planet today. Jennifer Aniston, Geri Halliwell and a host of other A1 celebrities swear by it. His diet book, The Atkins Diet Revolution, is the best selling diet book of all time, selling even more since his death on 17th April last year.
Nevertheless, some folks are meant to be more controversial when they are dead. Dr. Robert C, Atkins is a cardiologist. He is the man behind the Atkins Diet which promotes the liberal eating of protein and fat. It says that you do not need to count calories. In the latest twist, "leaked" medical records of Robert C. Atkins are being used to smear his name, alleging obesity and heart disease at the time of his death.
When Dr. Atkins launched his diet in the 70s, he was accused of breaking one of the most fundamental laws of nature. Scientists said that the more you eat the fatter you will get. They also said it would raise cholesterol and cause heart disease. The diet they said, would kill.
The only problem was that people who followed the Atkins diet got thinner and those who didn't got fatter. There were also studies showing that cholesterol profiles improved with this diet.
Indeed, since his death in April last year, 5 studies have come in support of his diet. They were well conducted studies that made their way into the credible peer reviewed journals of today. They showed that the weight loss experienced by those on the Atkins diet was twice that of low fat diets and it didn't compromise cardiovascular health. In fact, one of them were funded by the American Heart Association that had long pooh-poohed the diet.
In fact, the earlier Duke University study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Session 2002 showed that the Atkin's diet has a favourable impact on blood cholesterol levels.
Atkins was probably smiling in his grave until last week when an organization calling themselves The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) started a campaign alleging that Atkins weighed over 240 pounds at the time of his death. They also "dug" up his medical records and proclaimed that he had a history of heart attacks and high blood pressure.
Before I come to the defence of the late Dr. Atkins, let us first understand about the organization called PCRM. This is an organization of medical doctors that has been exposed as a front for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PCRM has taken over 1million USD from PETA and other animal rights movements. PCRM and PETA share office space, board members and staff.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has formally censured PCRM in the past, calling its recommendation "irresponsible" and "potentially dangerous to the health and welfare of Americans. "The AMA has called PCRM a "fringe organization" that uses "ethical tactics" and is "interested in perverting medical science." The PCRM is constant attacks on a diet of meat, fish and dairy foods and its insistence on a strict vegetarian diet are rooted on a animal rights philosophy.
Here are the counter facts on the late Robert C. Atkins:
1)Dr. Stuart Trager MD, chairman of the Atkins Physician Council told the Wall Street Journal that Atkins heart disease stemmed from a cardiomyopathy, a condition that was thought to result from a viral infection.
2)Akins himself had openly discussed this in several talks and meetings including a very high profile interview on CNN's Larry King Live
3)His Russian born widow (they had no children) had similarly come out to lash out at this latest publicity stunt by saying that her late husband has been monitored for his virally caused heart condition.
4)Dr. Trager's press release reads in part: "Due to water retention (Atkins) had a weight that varied between 180 and 195 pounds. During his coma, as he deteriorated and his organs failed, fluid retention and bloating dramatically distorted his body and left him 258 pounds at the time of death, a documented weight gain of over 60 pounds."
5)Apart from the actual organ deterioration, the treatment protocols using high dose steroids also promote water retention
6)It is important to note that his weight at death was caused by water gain not fat gain. Hospital records obviously and unequivocally details the unfortunately chain of event. Atkins arrived unconscious after his fall on 8th April. His condition did not improve despite emergency neurological treatment for bleeding in his brain. In life, his was adamant about not wanting life support and when his wishes were honoured, and ventilator life support was withdrawn on 17th April, he passed way.
7)It is also important to note that Atkins, who was 72, remained active until his death from a fall while trying to navigate an icy sidewalk.
8)His death was in no way connected to his weight or cardiovascular condition.
9)Had Atkins been 258 pounds while alive, this would have been very difficult to conceal in the very open and controversy seeking American press
10)In fact, you can go to the Atkins website: www.atkinscenter.com and view a recent video of Atkins in his last interview. He does not look obese in his 6 feet frame and 190 pounds.
11)Atkins was a tennis lover and played a game the weekend before he died.
Veronica Atkins called on Americans to respect the medical privacy of her family and that of late Dr. Atkins. You can see a full transcript of her response on the Atkins website as well. Indeed, the BBC noted on its website that his health just prior to his death was "grossly distorted".
I think there is enough scientific data in support of the Atkins diet. There is much evolutionary data to support the high protein low carbohydrate approach - the variant of the Akins diet. After all, weren't our caveman ancestors eating meat, fish, eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetable without bread, rice or roti chanai? Similarly, the Eskimos and Masai warriors seemed to fare well until bread and pasta complicated their health.