Atkins Nutritionals has said it expects interest in low-carbohydrate diets to pick up again in the New Year as consumers try to shed weight gained over the holidays.

Recent research has pointed to a dip in sales of low-carb products, suggesting the diet's popularity has reached its peak. Research from The NPD Group backed that up, with figures showing that 4.6% of Americans were following a reduced-carbohydrate diet in September, compared to 9% in January.

"In the first quarter of next year, the dieter is going to come back to low carb," Atkins chief marketing officer Matt Wiant was quoted by Reuters as saying. "There will be a slow build from here, rather than the ridiculously big build you saw in 2003."

Elsewhere, researchers at the University of Connecticut have claimed the Atkins diet is more effective for men than for women, based on a study, partly funded by the Atkins Foundation, of 15 men and 13 women.