updated 1/23/2004 1:38:03 PM ET 2004-01-23T18:38:03

He thought he was just chewing the fat, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have bitten off more than he bargained for.

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Apparently thinking microphones were off during a visit to a Brooklyn fire house this week, Bloomberg, between bites of pasta, used an expletive to dismiss the reported details of Dr. Robert Atkins’ death, hinting that he may have died from weight-related health problems. Later, he called the diet guru “fat.”

Atkins died last year at 72 from head injuries sustained from a fall on an icy sidewalk. His controversial diet, which stresses eating meat, eggs and cheese over pasta, bread and vegetables, has been widely popular since his first book came out in 1972, selling millions of copies.

Atkins’ widow is furious over Bloomberg’s comments and wants an apology.

'Extremely hurtful'
While Bloomberg backed off somewhat when asked by reporters about the comments Wednesday, saying he “would never criticize someone about their waistline,” his spokesman, Jordan Barowitz, said that’s as much as an apology as there will be.

Veronica Atkins plans to go on “Good Morning America” Friday to air her views on Bloomberg’s comments.

“They are extremely hurtful. They made her very angry, truly hurt,” said Richard Rothstein, a spokesman for Atkins Nutritionals. “She wants a public apology, and for the mayor to let people know what he said about her husband and his death was incredibly inappropriate and wrong.”

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