Monday, February 23


Michael Fumento, no friend of the Atkins plan, lays into the bloated-corpse issue like a hot knife through saturated fat in this latest column. First he echoes the incredulity of many respectable pathologists that someone could gain over 60 pounds in nine days, even from "fluid retention." Even the company's main apologist, Stuart Trager, seems to have a hard time believing this:

    On "Larry King Live," King asked Trager incredulously, "You can have that much fluid retention, like, gaining 50, 60 pounds?" Trager faltered. "I know people don't gain that much weight in nine days," he said, whereupon he switched the topic to once again bashing the Physicians Committee [for Responsible Medicine].
Fumento then notes that the doctor's "real" weight at the time of his fall, 195 pounds, is
    from an echocardiogram report, not admittance documents as one might expect. Conspicuously, the blood pressure numbers were covered. Trager lamely insisted it was to protect Atkins' privacy. Yet much of the media fuss over the M.E. report was its having said Atkins suffered hypertension. Atkins Nutritionals had squealed this was false, but then literally covered it up. The echocardiogram report did show Atkins' weight at 195, but the head of the echocardiography laboratory told me they don't even have a scale. "Sometimes we get the weight from ER, and sometimes we don't and don't put anything down," he said. "Do you ever just estimate?" I asked. "Yup," he replied.
Even fudging around with bogus BMI claims (which Fumento also blasts) can't change the fact that the man who was (supposedly) on the Atkins plan the longest ended his life as a big ol' fat guy.

UPDATE 3/3: Dr. John McDougall follows up on the Fumento piece with some observations of his own: "The man was grossly overweight for all of the 10 years that I knew him and I had met with him personally on several occasions. He looked very unhealthy to me every time we met - and his medical reports and the history that has been released by his organization confirm this. At the very least he suffered from severe heart damage known as cardiomyopathy. The Atkins organization says this was due to a virus - this is possible, but is an extremely rare cause for this condition. The most common reason for this severe loss of heart muscle is coronary artery disease due to a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet." And as to that amazing weight gain in his last nine days, McDougall says that would mean "60 to 80 pounds of fluid, equal to 8 to 10 gallons of water, would have been added to his body. Any medical doctor who allowed this much fluid accumulation in a patient in 9 days should have his medical practices reviewed."

As to the ethics and relevance of looking so closely at the bloated corpse of this poor fellow, McDougall reminds us, "Atkins' image is alive and well on TV, radio, newspapers, fast food restaurant menus, and supermarket shelves - making $100 million a year for Atkins Nutritionals Inc., selling people worldwide a program that results in short term weight loss (at best), is nearly impossible to follow, and eventually causes extremely poor health - the diet's founder, Dr. Atkins, is one important piece of the proof. When the Atkins business stops promoting him, I will stop criticizing him."

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