[New York] To pave the way for the Latin American launch of its branded products, Atkins Nutritionals is beginning a grass-roots outreach effort to win over the region's doctors and nutritionists to the low-carb lifestyle. Atkins has hired Jeffrey Group, Miami, to handle PR work in the region, focusing first on education and earning advocates for the diet in the medical community rather than brand awareness. The influencer outreach will begin in Brazil and Mexico, the region's largest markets, and in Puerto Rico, where consumers are regularly exposed to American media and consequently are more aware of the Atkins diet. The U.S. low-carb mania that has swept the United States has yet to spread south of the border, where diets in many countries are still dominated by staples like rice and tortillas. "The U.S. had a 30-year head start because the books and discussion had been going for many years before the company had started licensing the logo and food products," said Jeffrey Group President-CEO Jeffrey Sharlach. "The advantage is that there's been a lot of medical research and scientific backing for the Atkins' approach." An Atkins spokesman said product launches can be expected "at some point in 2005." The Ronkonkoma, N.Y., company is also opening an office in Aventura, Fla., to aid the push southward.