- Category: History & Facts
The Pritikin Program was originally founded by Nathan Pritikin, an engineer who became interested in nutrition after he was diagnosed with advanced heart disease at age 41. The medical advice given to Nathan Pritikin (and all other heart disease sufferers) at the time was that nothing could be done for heart disease. Doctors essentially told patients to "take it easy, don’t over-exert yourself, and keep eating your regular American diet of eggs, beef, cheese, and the like, until you die, which will probably be soon."
Unwilling to accept this fatalistic advice, Nathan Pritikin studied cultures from around the world that had a very low incidence of heart disease, adapted their diets to American tastes, and thus the Pritikin Program was born. Scorned by the medical profession, the Pritikin Program was propelled to the forefront of American culture when Dr. David Lehr, a well known Miami cardiologist, brought CBS's 60 Minutes to investigate the Pritikin Program and risked his career by telling the medical profession that they were not practicing medicine in the interest of their patients. Doctors, he asserted, needed to focus on nutrition and exercise, not drugs and surgery. It was Nathan Pritikin and Dr. David Lehr’s appearances on 60 Minutes in 1977 and 1978 that made “Pritikin” a household word and brought into acceptance the then-controversial notions that healthy diet and exercise alone can dramatically improve your health and prevent epidemic diseases like heart diseases, hypertension, and diabetes. These concepts are now widely accepted by the medical profession and the American Heart Association.
The Pritikin Eating Plan is naturally low in fat, emphasizing fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and some lean animal protein. Over 100,000 people have visited the Pritikin Center to lose weight, prevent health issues from occurring, and improve their health. The success of the Pritikin Program has been documented in over 115 scientific studies. A sampling of these studies are cited in the “Demonstrated Results of the Pritikin Approach” page (included in the Media Kit). The benefits for those who stay with the Pritikin Program are great, as they lose weight, control type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancers, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce heart disease risk factors, protect against heart attack, and often eliminate the need for many medications.
Further proof of how well the Pritikin Program works: When Nathan Pritikin died in 1985, the autopsy report results showed that he had actually reversed the documented heart disease and plaque build-up in his arteries that had plagued him years earlier. The report was published in the July 4, 1985 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.