Reports Yahoo! Health:

…Dr. Robert Atkins, whose popular diet stresses protein-rich meat and cheese over carbohydrates, weighed 258 pounds at his death and had a history of heart disease, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Atkins died last April at age 72 after being injured in a fall on an icy street. Before his death, he had suffered a heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a report by the city medical examiner.

…Last month, the diet guru’s widow, Veronica Atkins, demanded an apology from Mayor Michael Bloomberg after Bloomberg called her late husband “fat.” She told the Journal she was outraged that the report had been made public. “I have been assured by my husband’s physicians that my husband’s health problems late in life were completely unrelated to his diet or any diet,” she said.

…Stuart Trager, chairman of the Atkins Physicians Council in New York, told the Journal that Atkins’ heart disease stemmed from cardiomyopathy, a condition that was thought to result from a viral infection.

To be certain of course one would need an autopsy.

Borakove said that, because of family objections to an autopsy, the medical examiner had conducted only “an external exam” and a review of Atkins’ hospital records.

…One of the handwritten comments in the medical examiner’s report referred to “MI” (myocardial infarction, the technical term for heart attack), the newspaper said. Trager said Atkins had no record of having had a heart attack, saying medical histories on examiner’s reports are often written by less-experienced doctors who may not know a patient’s detailed history.

Or were prevented from examining the possible blockages? For more on Atkin’s see The Atkins’ Cancer Revolution. Comments John McDougall on the latest Atkin’s research:

…The mechanisms causing weight loss from the low-carbohydrate diets used in these studies should discourage doctors from recommending this approach to their patients. Followers of this diet complain of reduced appetite, nausea, and fatigue – all symptoms of illness. If followed strictly enough to enter ketosis – the goal of the Atkins diet – then there may be actual appetite suppression. Eating less, causes people to take in fewer calories and lose weight. Another result of eating less is they consume less saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and animal protein. Signs of improved health seem to appear because risk factors, like serum cholesterol, triglycerides, uric acid, and glucose, and blood pressure, decrease – and the patient is declared healthier. Not necessarily so. Similar benefits, for similar reasons, are seen when patients are placed on cancer chemotherapy – and doctors don’t brag about these results.

If people want to know the truth about good nutrition, they simply need to look at the world picture. Populations following high-[unrefined] carbohydrate, low-fat, lower-protein diets, like those from traditional Asian and African countries are trim for a lifetime and avoid all the diseases common to people who follow the Western diet. The Atkins diet is simply an exaggeration of the unhealthy Western diet to a level that makes people sufficiently ill to lose their appetite.

Update (February 12, 2004): A reader writes the news article “…fails to mention that Atkins was under 200 pounds when he was admitted to the hospital after his fall; the weight difference between then and when he died is attributed to fluid retention during the eight day coma before he died.”

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