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DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - A 53-year-old man has filed suit against the Atkins diet promoters in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, claiming that he suffered life-threatening health problems while on the trendy high-protein, low-carb diet, according to published sources.
Jody Gorran said his cholesterol rose to a perilous 230 only two months after he went on the Atkins diet in May 2001. By October 2003 he required an angioplasty to unblock an artery that was 99 percent clogged, he told the Palm Beach Post in a teleconference yesterday morning from the National Press Club in Washington.
Although advocates claim that the Atkins diet lets them lose weight while eating eat red meat and fat, Gorran responds that one-third of the people who go on the diet experience a rise in cholesterol levels, and those are the people he wants to warn with his lawsuit, which calls for health advisories to be put on all Atkins products, books, and Web sites. "I want the one-third of Atkins dieters whose cholesterol goes up on the regular Atkins diet to understand that they'd better go on a low-fat version of the diet or get off it completely," he said.
When Gorran was on the diet, he ate cheese every day and cheesecake three times a week, he said. "If a well-known cardiologist gave you the choice between eating the regular Atkins diet of steak, cheesecake, and whipped cream, and said it was safe, vs. eating lean proteins like turkey roll, which diet do you think most people would choose?" he said to the Post. "I relied upon [Atkins] and had no sense that I had just made a deal with the devil to keep a 32-inch waistline."
Aside from warning labels on products, the lawsuit demands for the $40.45 he spent on Atkins products. Gorran said yesterday he would donate any money won from the suit to charity.
In a prepared statement, the company said that it stands by the safety and health benefits of the diet and raised questions about the motives of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington-based vegan and animal advocacy group that is paying Gorran's legal bills, has provided him with a lawyer, and was the sponsor of yesterday's teleconference. According to the Atkins statement, the advocacy group has "a long history of initiating these kinds of scare tactics that are designed to convince the American public to stop eating animal protein of any sort."
Neal Barnard, president of the 5,000-member Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said his group is supporting the suit because "the way the diet is typically promoted, the foods that you are left to eat are high in cholesterol and high in fat, and the Atkins studies do not give us any great reassurance about the safety of that diet."
In 1979 A New York judge rejected an overweight woman's claim that following the Atkins diet resulted in her heart disease.