The late Dr Robert Atkins achieved fame and fortune with his revolutionary diet, selling 15 million books.

Now it seems he has redefined one of the world's most popular institutions: the McDonald's burger.

With millions of customers now sticking to the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet, McDonald's has announced the launch of the bun-free burger. The meal will be wrapped in lettuce leaves instead of bread, and come with a knife and fork.

A "bunless revolution" is now sweeping the United States, where McDonald's said last week it would offer burgers without buns in all 13,600 of its restaurants. The new-style burger will be offered for all beef, fish or chicken sandwiches sold in the US from next month.

And Britain could soon follow suit. Thanks to the endorsement of stars such as Renée Zelwegger and Geri Halliwell, more than three million Atkins books have been sold in Britain and Atkins-branded meals are now on offer in supermarkets.

McDonald's has been struggling with falling sales in Britain and has already tried to attract new customers by offering healthier options such as salads, Quorn sandwiches, organic semi-skimmed milk and fruit. The bunless burger could help turn its fortunes around.

A spokesman said: "We are a customer-led business, we listen to what our customers want. A bunless burger is something we would consider in the future if consumers wanted it."