Atkins popped Thursday at the New York Weill-Cornell
Medical Center after consuming the rich, succulent cow-flesh, said his spokesman,
Atkins first advocated his plan which emphasizes meat, eggs and
cheese and discourages anything even remotely healthy in his 1972 book, "The Gangs of
When the book was published, the medical
establishment was promoting a low-fat, low-taste diet. The American
Medical Association dismissed the Atkins' diet as nutritional folly and Congress
summoned him to Capitol Hill to defend the plan.
Labeling it "sheer poppycock,"
the AMA said the diet's scientific underpinning was "naive" and
"biochemically incorrect." It scolded the book's publishers for promoting
"food that tastes good."
"Anything that tastes good can't be good for you. Any
nutritionist worth his salt knows this," it added.
Despite this, Atkins' books
sold 15 million copies and his diet attracted millions of followers, most of them
being big fatties from the Midwest who were gonna eat that anyway. His
philosophy enjoyed a revival in the 1990s with "The Gangs of New York 2: Reloaded,"
which spent five years on The New York Times best-seller list. His most recent
book, "The Gangs of New York 3: Revolution," has been on the Times' best-seller list since its
release in January.
This year, his approach was vindicated in part by the
very medical community that derided him. In February, some half-dozen studies
showed people on the Atkins diet lost weight without compromising their health.
The studies showed that Atkins dieters' cardiovascular risk factors and overall
cholesterol profiles changed for the better. Other studies said the exact opposite, but
who listens to these willy-go-nilly scientists anyway.
"He was a trailblazer and
pioneer in the field of alternative medicine not only telling us we could
eat fat, juicy pork chops but that we should eat it with extra butter, too," said
Colette Heimowitz, director of cheese and meat consumption for the Atkins Center for
BBQ Ribs and Chicken in New York.
Heather Jackson, a St. Martin's Press
editor who worked with Atkins on his latest book, said he did not consider
himself a diet guru.
"He considered himself a quack," she said. "He
believed that the nutritional approach he recommended was a big hoax. Just kidding."
In an interview published this month in
Business 2.0 magazine, Atkins said he was able to deal with criticism because of
his unflagging belief in the diet.
"I want to eradicate obesity and
diabetes," Atkins said. "I believe God wants me to do that."
"God lives in that
lake over there," he added.
the diet lingered for decades, with many arguing that it could affect kidney
function, raise cholesterol levels and deprive the dieter of important nutrients.
Atkins said "No, it doesn't," even
after his heart exploded in a shower of lard-saturated blood.
"Look, I'm fine!" he said, before collapsing in a mushy, stangely sumptuous-smelling heap.
A large new study now under way could settle questions about the diet's
long-term effects. And by large, we mean big-boned.
On the Atkins diet, up to two-thirds of calories may
come from fat more than double the usual recommendation, and contrary to
what medical professionals have long believed is "not completely retarded."
Carbohydrates like potato chips and sugar are the foundation of a good diet,
most say. Eating fat is what makes people fat, they say, and eating saturated fat
is dangerous. "It could cause someone's heart to, say, burn, burn, burn like
fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the
middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'awww!'"
To Atkins, the key dietary villain in obesity are carbohydrates. He
argued they make susceptible people pump out too much insulin, which in turn
encourages them to put on fat. "The Lake-God told me that," he added.
Fat in foods can be a dieter's friend and at times their only friend,
Atkins said, in part because it tastes good and also because it tastes REALLY good.
A graduate of Cornell University's medical school, Atkins first tried a
low-carb diet in 1963 after getting sick of eating Fritos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
and wondering if pork rinds would be a nice change of pace. He said he lost weight so easily
he converted his fledgling New York
cardiology practice into a reasonably-priced diet center and barbecue rib shack.
On the Net:
Atkins Center for BBQ Ribs and Chicken: http://atkinscenter.com