Weight Loss Programs: Ratings of Sources
Every year, U.S. News & World Report rounds up the top 38 diets in a variety of categories. They consult experts in diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes and heart disease. These experts rate the diets in seven categories, offering overviews and detailed analyses of each diet. Those that receive a "best" ranking overall are effective for weight loss and are relatively easy to follow, offer appropriate nutrition, and help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Dozens of different diet plans are reviewed by editors of WebMD.com. Each review is thorough and comprehensive and looks at the science behind the diet, as well detailing the level of effort and the diet's restrictions. Each review is a collaboration between a contributing writer and a medical professional who offers his or her perspective on whether or not the diet will work (with an emphasis on weight loss and the feasibility of long-term adherence), and who it might be best for. While the reviews are extremely valuable for separating hype from fact for someone in the process of deciding on a weight loss plan, the diets are not rated or ranked against each other. However, unlike most websites WebMD.com even reviews more unusual diets, like the Morning Banana Diet. All of these reviews were updated in 2016.
James Hamblin interviews Dr. David Katz, a respected physician and researcher who specializes in obesity. Dr. Katz discusses the results of a study that he and his colleague, Dr. Stephanie Meller, conducted that was published in the Annual Review of Public Health titled, "Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?" In it, Drs. Katz and Meller compare a number of popular types of diets, grouping them into categories such as low carbohydrate, low fat/vegetarian/vegan, low glycemic, Mediterranean, mixed/balanced and Paleolithic. The authors conclude that all of these diets have similarities, in that they emphasize minimally processed foods, which they agree is ideal as a base for a healthy diet, even though they acknowledge that there are a number of complex issues that influence people's food choices.
The staff of Mayo Clinic give general tips for choosing the best weight-loss plan and making your diet attempts as successful as possible. They also evaluate 21 diets for several criteria, including flexibility and nutritional balance. Just six of the diets earn an unqualified recommendation for being flexible, nutritionally balanced, incorporating exercise and being sustainable over the long term. All of the best-known types of diets are included.
Four commercial weight-loss programs and nine do-it-yourself plans are evaluated and rated. Ratings are based upon feedback from 9,376 subscribers. Each plan receives an overall score for initial weight loss, maintenance, calorie awareness, food variety, inclusion of fruits and vegetables, and exercise integration and encouragement. However, several of the top-ranked diets are panned by many other nutrition experts.
The editors of NextAdvisor.com break down the pricing, support, fitness and meal options for seven prepackaged diet plans. Blind taste-testing is also performed by independent testers. It's unclear who did the general research for each program, which includes signing up for the plan; comparing the offerings (and their suitability for those with dietary limitations); and monitoring emerging news, opinions and research reports about the diets, but the direct comparisons of ratings are very useful.
Amazon.com users don't review diets, per se, but there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of reviews for diet books. The best tend to get better than 4-star ratings, and new diet books tend to get higher rankings than older books, although not necessarily higher or as many ratings. There is also a good selection of free diet eBooks in Kindle editions.
The articles here are a bit of a mixed bag, ranging from the author's personal experience with a specific diet, to basic overviews of diets that are currently popular (like the Buddha Diet and Whole30). Still, there are weight loss tips and inspirational stories here as well, which can be helpful to those who are struggling to stay on track.