We fight to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

Warning message

This article was published in January 2013. The information may be out of date. Please check our epilepsy information or our site A-Z.

Modified Atkins effective in JME

17 Jan 2013

A child's hand reaching for french friesA new study brings fresh evidence that the modified Atkins diet can be an effective treatment for people with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME).


The diet is based on the traditional Atkins diet. The Atkins diet is designed primarily for weight loss and involves eating less carbohydrate (bread, pasta, potatoes), while eating more foods that are high in fat. The modified diet has a lower carbohydrate limit that the traditional Atkins diet. High-fat foods are also encouraged.

The study – led by Eric Kossoff – was conducted at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in the US. Mr Kossoff said: “To our knowledge, the use of dietary therapy for JME has only previously been reported in a single patient, who was noted to be a responder at three months.”

According to the study, children and adults who followed the diet plan for at least one month experienced a significant reduction in seizure frequency.

Japanese girl eats a hotdogThe study looked at eight patients with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. All eight patients had a history of myoclonic seizures and most experienced absences and generalised tonic-clonic seizures. On average, they had previously tried around five epilepsy medicines and were taking either one or two when starting the diet.

After one month, six of the eight people had at least a 50 per cent reduction in seizure frequency. After three months, this was still the case in five of the eight people. Both myoclonic and generalised tonic-clonic seizures were reduced. Two patients became entirely seizure-free.

At an average follow-up of around 13 months, 50 per cent (half) of the patients were still on the modified Atkins diet. This diet is less restrictive than the ketogenic diet (another dietary treatment for epilepsy where foods must be weighed accurately to the gram to make it successful). Despite this, one patient had stopped the modified Atkins due to its restrictions.

Dr Kossoff says: “Dietary therapies offer patients with epilepsy a sense of control of their treatment, which can be empowering for individuals with JME.” The development can also lead to “anticonvulsant medication reduction and reduction of associated side-effects. Further studies are needed to compare the relative feasibility and efficacy of these treatments in this population.”

The full study findings were reported in the medical journal Epilepsy & Behavior.

There are no comments yet. Be the first to comment...

Question about your epilepsy?

Your question will be sent to our helpline advisors.

Have a comment about this page?

All comments are reviewed by a moderator before publishing. Comments will be edited or deleted if they are offensive, libellous, slanderous, abusive, commercial or irrelevant.

We ask for your email when you make a comment through this website. This means that we can let you know directly that we have replied to you. By making a comment through the website, you allow us to use the comment in our publicity without using your name. If we would like to use your name, we will email you to get your permission.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
2 + 1 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.