"Ketogenic" means causing ketosis, a state where the urine is high in ketone because the body is burning fat. The Atkins diet produces a mild state of ketosis, while the ketogenic diet depicted in the film involves a severe state of ketosis. Recently, Johns Hopkins researchers have reported that a milder, Atkins-like ketogenic diet may also reduce the symptoms of epilepsy.
Jim Abrahams helped set up the Charlie Foundation in Santa Monica, California, an institution dedicated to spreading the word about the ketogenic diet to major paediatric neurological centres. It was through this network that he first came into contact with the Reimullers, the family depicted in the film.