A man who blames his heart disease on the Atkins diet said on Thursday he is suing the privately held Atkins Inc. to force it to disclose what he called the risks of the popular high-fat, low-carb regimen.
Jody Gorran of Delray Beach, Florida, said he could show that he had low cholesterol and no heart disease before he started the diet, but quickly developed clogged arteries afterwards.
“I believe that the diet almost killed me by giving me heart disease,” Gorran, 53, told a news conference in Washington. “I feel victimized by Atkins.”
Gorran is being sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nutritional advocacy group that promotes a vegan diet.
Gorran’s complaint, filed in a Florida county court, seeks $14,000, mostly for attorney’s fees, and $40 in damages.
The Atkins diet promotes a high-fat, high-protein diet meant to force the body to shed pounds by going into a condition called ketosis.
Many doctors agree ketosis can be dangerous, and the PCRM held a news conference last November at which a couple from Missouri also said their 16-year-old daughter died while in a state of ketosis on the Atkins diet.
“Defendants knew that approximately one-third of those customers who brought their products and followed their nutritional advice would have increased cholesterol levels and, correspondingly, increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” Gorran’s complaint reads.
Atkins Inc. denied the charges.
“Atkins stands by the science that has repeatedly reaffirmed the safety and health benefits of the Atkins Nutritional Approach,” the company said in a statement.
Studies show that people on the Atkins diet can lose weight and also have their cholesterol fall while on the Atkins diet, at least in the short term. No published study has followed dieters for more than a year.
But the American Heart Association has said the lower cholesterol levels are likely from the initial weight loss. That group and many other doctor’s groups’ recommend dieters lose weight by cutting calories overall.
This week the committee that sets U.S. nutritional guidelines also recommended against “fad” diets and advised Americans to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD