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WASHINGTON, May 27 (AFP) - A Florida businessman has filed suit against Atkins Nutritionals, charging that the company's high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet regimen caused his severe heart disease, which nearly killed him.
Jody Gorran filed the lawsuit against Atkins Nutritionals and the estate of the late doctor Robert Atkins in a Palm Beach County, Florida court after undergoing heart surgery that he claims was necessary to save his life from the bad effects of the diet.
"I'm suing the Atkins empire because I want the public to know that the Atkins diet may be killing people. I believe that the diet almost killed me, by giving me heart disease," Gorran told reporters in Washington.
The Delray Beach, Florida businessman is seeking 15,000 dollars in compensation, which he says will be given to charity, and is demanding that health warnings be placed on all Atkins products.
Six months before starting the program, Gorran, now 53, underwent a heart test which found him to be in excellent health, with no trace of plaque or occlusion, according to cardiologist David Nash, head of the Syracuse Preventive Cardiology Center in New York State.
Gorran followed the diet for two and a half years before being stricken with angina. Tests revealed that one of his coronary arteries was 99 percent blocked.
He underwent surgery to open the blocked artery, and a stent was inserted to keep the artery open. He stopped following the diet on the advice of his doctors, and claims his unhealthy cholesterol levels dropped immediately.
Gorran is receiving legal counsel from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a pro-vegetarian group, which raised the ire of Atkins representatives.
Gina Mangiaracina, an Atkins spokeswoman, charged that the lawsuit "is just for publicity.
"We should not let the real issue, providing people with a scientifically validated nutritional choice in the face of a worldwide obesity and Type 2 diabetes epidemic, be manipulated by this extremist animal rights vegan group, " she said, referring to PCRM.
The Atkins program advocates a diet high in protein at the expense of carbohydrates.
According to Atkins's theories, eating virtually no carbohydrates causes the body to enter a state known as ketosis, in which it uses stored body fat as fuel.
The unique selling point is that if dieters stick to certain types of foods, principally meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, they can theoretically eat as much as they want and yet still shed weight.
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