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Robert Coleman Atkins

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 15 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1090

Cardiologist and author of the bestselling diet book in history

Robert Atkins, cardiologist and author of the bestselling diet book Dr Atkins' New Diet Revolution, was dismissed as a faddist or worse by most mainstream experts. He promoted carbohydrate restriction and a high protein, high fat diet, urging patients to “eat the hamburger and throw away the bun.” His theories triggered a bitter dispute between those who would limit fats and those who would limit carbohydrates.

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Atkins' followers saw him as a courageous David standing up to the establishment Goliath with its wrong-headed ideas and vested interests. Rejected by the medical community, Atkins appealed directly to the public. Popular support for the Atkins diet grew at an astonishing rate. His book Dr Atkins' Diet Revolution, first published in 1972 and reissued 20 years later as Dr Atkins' New Diet Revolution, sold 12 million copies, making it the bestselling diet book in history.

Although millions of people battling the bulge swear by Atkins, the US National Institutes of …

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