Atkins Foundation To Use Inherited Fortune of Founder To Study Diet
The Robert C. Atkins Foundation, a charity founded by the late diet doctor Robert Atkins, will fund a number of studies on low-carbohydrate diets with up to $600 million it is set to receive following Atkins' death last year, the Boston Globe reports. In his will, Atkins left his assets in a trust for his wife, Veronica Atkins, and asked that it be transferred in segments to the charity; the entire remaining amount of the fortune is to be given to the charity upon her death. This year, his wife will give the foundation $46 million, boosting its assets twentyfold, according to foundation officials. The New York-based charity says it intends to continue funding research into low-carbohydrate diets. In addition to weight loss studies, the foundation is already funding studies on how the low-carb approach to eating might help treat diabetes, epilepsy and seizures; loss of cognitive function in the elderly; and esophageal reflux.
According to the Globe, the influx of cash to the foundation represents a "dramatic turnabout" for Atkins research; Atkins was "long marginalized by the nutrition research community." Critics of the Atkins approach worry that the new foundation's wealth and "singular focus could distort the nation's dieting research agenda in a way that benefits Atkins Nutritionals," the for-profit company that sells Atkins products. Yale University nutritional specialist Dr. David Katz said, "The studies they fund keep the Atkins name in your face." The Globe notes that with the money, the Atkins Foundation will wield "outsize influence in the health-research world." The federal government this year will spend $400.1 million on obesity research, compared with the $600 million in assets that the foundation will eventually have. Dr. Stuart Trager, Atkins Nutritionals' medical director, said the company no longer has any role in the foundation, even though its research could aid the company (Mishra, Boston Globe, 6/25).