Atkins Nutritionals has said it is concerned about the recent boom in low-carbohydrate food products and restaurant menu options.

Dr. Stuart Trager, medical director of Atkins Nutritionals, said the company thinks it is “terrific” that consumers are embracing controlled-carbohydrate diets, but warned that people need to change their lifestyle rather than simply eating ready-made low-carb products.

“If you’re just lowering your carbs with many of the new food products that are now hitting the market without correctly following a healthy low-carb lifestyle, you could easily get in trouble,” Trager said.

Atkins Nutritionals said estimates suggest that over 1,000 low-carbohydrate products were launched in 2003 and hundreds more will be launched this year with offerings coming from nearly every major food manufacturer.

“The meaning of the words ‘low-carb’ on a food label is highly inconsistent,” said Trager. “In fact, in many cases the words are meaningless from a scientific standpoint. The FDA has not yet defined low carb for the consumer, so just about any food and beverage producer can use the term without qualification.”

He said a product may be labelled low-carb because it has a lower carb content than a traditional product, but may still contain too many carbs for Atkins dieters. Trager also warned that some low-carb products can still be unhealthy due to the inclusion of harmful additives and trans fats in their ingredients.