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Atkins official: Lawsuit a 'case of sensationalism'

Dr. Stuart Trager
Diet and Fitness
Atkins Diet

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Businessman Jody Gorran filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that the Atkins diet is responsible for his health problems. Stuart Trager, the medical director of Atkins Nutritionals, responded to Gorran's claims (full story) in an interview witth CNN's Anderson Cooper.

TRAGER: I think what we've heard is a case of sensationalism rather than science. We've seen 27 recent studies come out that show that controlling carbohydrates using the Atkins approach can help people lower their risk factors. It helps them lower their weight and manage their health.

COOPER: But he's saying if, I mean if there was a study, he said one-third of the people may have problems with their cholesterol. Why not put some sort of a warning on it?

TRAGER: Because it's a more complicated issue than that. In fact, although one-third of the people had a slight elevation in LDL cholesterol, we now know that LDL isn't just one type of cholesterol. There are subtypes of LDL cholesterol. There are other risk factors that improved in some of those people so that their triglycerides when people follow Atkins go down dramatically.

COOPER: Now he said the document basically told people, well, if you're, you know, if the low-fat one doesn't work for you, go back to the other one. I had read a different one. Am I totally wrong here?

TRAGER: No, no, I agree with you 100 percent. I think what he's guilty of is really what the folks at PCRM [Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine] have done before, this animal rights ...

COOPER: PCRM, that's the group he's working with.

TRAGER: It's this animal rights activist-begging group who like to tell part truths and like to use, pick and choose, which part of the truth they let out so that it supports their case.

I think that's a perfect example. We both read the same version where it very clearly says if your cholesterol goes up, what you should do is try the low-fat version and retest it.

We've been very clear that people who are following Atkins should have their cholesterol levels checked. Everybody should be under the care of a doctor and it's also important to know that when people follow a low-fat diet, LDL cholesterols can also go up.

COOPER: But the American Heart Association does not recommend high protein diets, stating people [who] stay on the diets face potential health risks. I mean, isn't maintaining a healthy lifestyle more important than just losing weight?

TRAGER: Absolutely it is but what's happening for many, many people, tens of millions of people, controlling carbohydrates is letting them obtain that healthy lifestyle. It's letting them lower the risk factors, weight, HDL cholesterol is improving. Triglycerides are improving. It's giving people a tool that works for them.

Again, I think we have to look at science, at the science, the independently funded studies, whether they're funded by the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association, good clinical research done in peer-reviewed fashion, published in major journals are helping people understand that controlling carbohydrates is no longer an approach that can be overlooked.

COOPER: Is this trial ever going to see the light of day, do you think?

TRAGER: I think that this is going to be a meritless case and I think we have to recognize that it's got to be about science, not sensationalism, clinical research, not this kind of headline-grabbing anecdotal reporting that people like Mr. Gorran and the PCRM group would like us to believe is a substitute when science doesn't support their case.

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