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Update on Atkins' Obesity

Jenny Thompson's newsletter had a major insight on Atkins' obesity:

"The information about Dr. Atkins' supposed obesity and heart disease was supplied to the Wall Street Journal by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). So let's first of all consider the source. To say that the PCRM is anti-Atkins is putting it mildly. In fact, in addition to its primary web site, the PCRM maintains an entirely separate site completely devoted to one thing: attacking the Atkins diet.

According to the New York Times, the New York City medical examiner's office "mistakenly" sent a copy of Dr. Atkins' autopsy report to a Nebraska doctor who then passed it on to the PCRM. Did PCRM representatives then make a RESPONSIBLE decision? No. They sent the report to the Wall Street Journal. Releasing an autopsy to the public is in violation of federal law, not to mention an incredible violation of respect for the deceased and his family.

The autopsy reveals that at the time of his death, Dr. Atkins weighed 258 pounds. For someone who is six feet tall (as Dr. Atkins was) that could be considered obese. But on the day he took his fall on the ice and lapsed into a coma, Dr. Atkins weighed 195 pounds, which would be far from obese for a six-foot man. During the nine days Dr. Atkins was in a coma he retained fluid and his weight increased to 258 pounds. Friends say they didn't even recognize him.

And Dr. Atkins didn't have heart disease. For several years it's been common knowledge that Dr. Atkins suffered from a condition known as cardiomyopathy, in which chronic bacterial infection weakens the heart. The bacterium was picked up while Dr. Atkins was traveling overseas, and had nothing to do with his diet.

The PCRM is playing the role of sore loser--and playing it perfectly. More and more studies are showing that the Atkins diet has not only helped people lose weight, but also lower cholesterol and blood pressure, decrease triglycerides, and beat diabetes and other diseases. Personally, that's what I would call "responsible medicine."

There should be no room for personal attacks and smear tactics in a medical debate. PCRM representatives have disgraced themselves and their members by stooping to this new low. Rather than directing personal insults against a man who passed away or staging stacked press conferences featuring one or two people with bad personal experiences, they would put their time and resources to much better use by conducting a medically appropriate study to prove their position. Does anyone else think that would be responsible medicine?"

HSI Baltimore Newsletter February 12, 2004

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