Atkins Goes Bankrupt

The company behind the Atkins Diet phenomenon has filed for banruptcy protection.

Low-carb king Atkins files Chapter 11 (AP)

Atkins Nutritionals Inc., the company that promoted low-carb eating into a national diet craze, filed for bankruptcy court protection Sunday, a company spokesman said. Atkins has been hurt by waning popularity of its namesake diet, which focuses on eliminating carbohydrates such as bread and pasta to shed weight. The diet became one of the most popular in U.S. history, spawning a virtual cottage industry of low-carb regimens, but also drew criticism from experts for its focus on fatty foods and low fruit and vegetable consumption.

A hearing on the prearranged, Chapter 11 filing was scheduled for Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, spokesman Richard Rothstein said. The privately held company, founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert C. Atkins, said it had reached an agreement with the majority of its lenders to give them equity in exchange for lowered debt.

The irony is that, in the early years at least, Atkins really wasn’t selling anything other than the books. Unlike, say, Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers, the beauty of the Atkins Diet was the fact that one did not have to buy special foods sold by the company; rather, one simply purchased meats and other high protein foods and avoided breads, pasta, potatoes, rice, and other high carbohydrate foods. Once the company started promoting “low carb” foods that were in fact not particularly low in carbohydrates, its very rationale began to crumble.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.