Robert Atkins (nutritionist)

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Robert Coleman Atkins, MD (October 17, 1930 - April 17, 2003) was an American physician and cardiologist, best known for the Atkins Nutritional Approach (or "Atkins Diet"), a popular but controversial way of dieting that entails eating low-carbohydrate and high-protein foods, in addition to leaf vegetables and dietary supplements.

Atkins graduated from the University of Michigan in 1951 and received a medical degree from Cornell Medical College in 1955, after which he specialized in cardiology and complementary medicine.


Around 2000, Atkins started to develop a heart condition, cardiomyopathy, which he claimed was unrelated to his diet.[1] On April 18, 2002, Atkins suffered a cardiac arrest.

On April 8, 2003, Atkins slipped on ice and fell in front of his medical office in New York City and sustained major head injuries that put him in a coma. News of this quickly turned into rumors that Atkins had a heart attack while he was on his own diet. He never recovered from his injuries, and subsequently died on April 17 of kidney failure.[2] By mistake, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office released Atkins' medical records to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group associated with PETA and which advocates a vegetarian diet. The record stated his weight to be approximately 255 lb (116 kg) at the time of death. In terms of simple height/weight measure (BMI), this would mean he was obese; the apparent irony of a diet guru being obese caused the information to be circulated around the world by the media and animal rights groups, much to the distress of his family. The Atkins company released a statement claiming that he weighed only 196 lb (89 kg) upon admission to the hospital and that his apparent increase in weight was due to fluid retention following the failure of his major organs.[3] William Leith interviewed him in the period between his cardiac arrest and his fall. Leith writes, "He looks to be just under 6 feet tall and around 200 lbs – not skinny, not thin, but definitely not fat. The jowls around his neck are fairly minimal, signs of age rather than excess weight."[4]

Bankruptcy of company

On July 31, 2005, Atkins Nutritionals—the company that Dr. Atkins founded in 1989—filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York.[5] The company had been hurt in recent years by the fading popularity of its namesake diet and the rising popularity of other high-protein/low-carb diet plans. The company emerged from bankruptcy January 10, 2006 with a business strategy that softened the emphasis on the low carbohydrate diet and concentrated on the sales of prepared nutritional bars and shakes.[6]


  • Atkins, Robert C. The Essential Atkins for Life Kit: The Next Level Pan Macmillan, 2003. ISBN 0-330-43250-8
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Diet Planner M. Evans and Company, 2003 | Vermilion, 2003. ISBN 0-09-189877-3
  • Atkins, Robert C. Atkins for Life: The Next Level New York: St. Martin's Press, 2003. ISBN 1-4050-2110-1
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution New York: Avon Books, 2002. ISBN 0-06-001203-X. | Vermilion, 2003. ISBN 0-09-188948-0
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution M. Evans and Company, 2002.
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Age-Defying Diet St. Martin's Press, 2001, 2002
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution: Nature's Answers to Drugs Simon and Schuster, 1997
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Quick & Easy New Diet Cookbook Simon and Schuster, 1997
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' New Carbohydrate Gram Counter. New York: M. Evans and Company, 1996. ISBN 0-87131-815-6
  • Atkins, Robert C, Gare, Fran Dr. Atkins' New Diet Cookbook M. Evans and Company, 1994 | Vermilion, 2003. ISBN 0-09-188946-4
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution M. Evans and Company, 1992
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Health Revolution Houghton Mifflin, 1988
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Nutrition Breakthrough Bantam, 1981
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' SuperEnergy Diet Cookbook Signet, 1978
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' SuperEnergy Diet Bantam, 1978
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Diet Cookbook Bantam, 1974
  • Atkins, Robert C. Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution Bantam, 1972


  1. CNN He made a recovery and returned to work. Atkins diet author home after cardiac arrest 25 April 2002
  2. BBC Diet guru Atkins dies 17 April 2003
  3. BBC Atkins 'was not obese at death' 12 February 2004
  4. William Leith The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict Bloomsbury ISBN 0-7475-7250-X, page 103 (paperback edition)
  5. BBC Atkins firm seeks financial help 1 August 2005
  6. Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. Emerges from Bankruptcy

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