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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 February, 2004, 17:39 GMT
Atkins 'was not obese at death'
Dr Robert C Atkins
The Atkins diet is popular worldwide, despite controversy
Reports that diet guru Robert Atkins was obese at the time of his death have been condemned by his company as "grossly distorted".

A medical report leaked earlier this week said Atkins had a weight problem when he died last year after a fall.

But his company said that Atkins had in fact gained excess weight in hospital due to fluid retention and bloating.

The Atkins diet has millions of devotees worldwide, although some experts fear it is unhealthy.

'Inaccurate information'

Atkins died aged 72 in New York last April after slipping and hitting his head on an icy pavement.

On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal newspaper published leaked details of a confidential New York Medical Examiner's report made at the time of his death.

The medical report was apparently released in error to a doctor who did not treat Atkins.

It claims he had a heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension and weighed 255 lbs (116kg) at the time of his death.

An Atkins company statement condemned the article as "based on incomplete and inaccurate personal medical information that was released in violation of [US] federal law".

It said that Atkins weighed 196lbs (89kg) at the time of his accident and gained weight while in a coma.

"As he deteriorated and his major organs failed, fluid retention and bloating dramatically distorted his body," it said.

"Any implication that Dr Atkins was obese prior to his accident shows a blatant disregard, or even worse, a twisting of medical facts surrounding this case to suit an agenda," it added.

'Pathetic attempt'

However, some medical experts have pointed out that Atkins, who was six feet (1.8m) tall, still qualified as overweight according to the Body Mass Index calculation at the time of his accident.

And others have said that, although it is not uncommon for sufferers of heart disease to experience bloating and fluid retention, it is unusual for someone to gain so much weight from such symptoms.

His widow, Veronica Atkins, said in a separate statement published on the Atkins website that the late doctor's diet had not led to health problems.

"Dr Atkins developed a condition called cardiomyopathy approximately three years prior to his death... Though his condition significantly weakened his heart, its cause was clearly related to an infection and not his diet," she said.

Diet guru Atkins dies
17 Apr 03  |  Health
Atkins diet health warning
17 Apr 03  |  Health

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