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Diet doctor Atkins critical after fall

Robert Atkins is famous for the
Robert Atkins is famous for the "Atkins Diet" that blamed carbohydrates for weight gain.

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Dr. Robert Atkins, promoter of a popular but controversial high-protein, low carbohydrate diet, was in critical condition in a New York hospital Thursday with severe head injuries after slipping on an icy sidewalk, his spokesman said.

Spokesman Richard Rothstein said Atkins, 72, fell on Tuesday morning near the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine in Manhattan. He was assisted by colleague Dr. Keith Berkowitz and admitted to Weill Cornell Medical Center.

"He did bang his head on the concrete, he did suffer severe head trauma and they did have to perform surgery to relieve the pressure," Rothstein said.

Rothstein said doctors described Atkins' condition as "very serious" and that he was in critical condition. Atkins fell on the sidewalk, which was still icy after an unusual spring snowstorm that hit the New York region on Monday.

Atkins developed the "Atkins Diet" -- he now refers to it as "the Atkins Nutritional Approach" -- that blames carbohydrates, a major energy source, for weight gain. Carbohydrates include grains, pastas, fruits and starchy vegetables such as potatoes.

Instead of carbohydrates and sugar, Atkins followers are allowed plenty of fat and protein from foods such as meat, eggs and cheese. The system claims to change the body from burning carbohydrates to burning fat.

But critics say diets with lots of meat eating and high in protein are linked to diseases such as osteoporosis and heart disease and have not proven to achieve long-term weight loss.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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