Weight Loss Programs: Ratings of Sources
Every year, U.S. News & World Report rounds up the top diets in a variety of categories. They consult experts in diet and nutrition, and offer overviews as well as a detailed analysis 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.
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.
This study compares seven weight-loss plans -- "The New Glucose Revolution," Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Dean Ornish's "Eat More, Weigh Less," the Zone Diet, Weight Watchers and the USDA 2005 Food Guide Pyramid -- using the dietary guidelines of the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) to determine which is the most healthful and best able to prevent cardiovascular disease.
More than 300 overweight/obese premenopausal women are randomly assigned to follow the Atkins Diet, Zone Diet, LEARN or Dean Ornish's "Eat More, Weigh Less" diet for 12 months. Weight loss is greatest in the Atkins Diet group but not statistically different from subjects following the Zone, LEARN and Ornish diets. Health outcomes -- including lipid profiles, triglycerides and blood pressure (for the Atkins Diet) -- are comparable to or more favorable than the other diet groups.
This study randomly assigns 160 overweight individuals to the Atkins, Dean Ornish's "Eat More, Weigh Less," Weight Watchers or Zone diets. At the one-year mark, 25 percent of participants who stuck to their diets lost more than 5 percent of their body weight, regardless of which plan they followed. There is no correlation between the weight a person lost and the diet he or she was on.
In a randomized controlled trial, more than 440 overweight or obese women either participate in a two-year Jenny Craig protocol or receive "usual care," which includes two individualized weight-loss counseling sessions and monthly contacts. The Jenny Craig protocol includes prepackaged meals, in-person or telephone-based one-on-one counseling for weight loss, and increased physical activity. While the Jenny Craig dieters lost 7.9 percent of their initial weight after two years, the usual-care control group lost 2.1 percent of their initial weight.
This study evaluates Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS), a nonprofit weight-loss program that's available at a much lower cost than commercial diets. The study examines results for more than 40,000 members, and finds that those who stuck with the program for a year or more lost about 6 percent of their body weight. "TOPS is associated with moderate weight loss among participants who remain in the program for at least one year," the researchers conclude, adding that it provides "similar results" to commercial weight-loss programs. However, experts acknowledge that trials comparing TOPS to commercial plans like Weight Watchers are still needed.
Researchers from Teesside University in the U.K. review 39 weight-loss studies that focus on diets and lifestyle modifications. Of those, only 11 produce statistically significant weight loss that lasted at least two years. The successful diets include low-fat, low-calorie and Weight Watchers, the only commercial diet mentioned as being effective for weight loss.
A two-year trial in Israel assigns 322 moderately obese subjects to a low-carb, Mediterranean or low-fat diet. The Mediterranean and low-fat groups are limited to 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day, but the low-carbohydrate group can consume unlimited calories. Dietitians meet with each group throughout the study both in person and over the phone. After two years, subjects on the low-carb and Mediterranean diets lost more weight than those eating low-fat.
This article reviews the then latest research on weight-loss programs and treatments. According to the author, Mediterranean and low-carb diets "appear to be more effective at maintaining sustainable weight loss than the American Heart Association low-fat diet."
The editors of NextAdvisor.com break down the pricing, support, fitness and meal options for six 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.
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 sustainable over the long term.
Nutrition gurus at Health magazine's website review more than 40 diets and weight-loss programs. Each plan gets a lengthy overview and analysis by a dietitian, doctor or fitness professional. You can click on up to three diets at once to see them compared side by side. While there are no ratings or clinical tests conducted, the write-ups are detailed enough to help you make a decision. However, this appears to be an older article as some newer, popular diets are noticeably absent, while others that have since fallen off the face of the earth are still included.
Amazon.com does not 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.