Consumer Reports Rates Diet Plans

Consumer Reports Rates Diet Plans

Consumer Reports Rates Diet Plans

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

Consumer Reports, the nonprofit consumer group, rated the diet plans in the June 2005 issue based on combined scores for nutritional values and weight-loss effectiveness. Consumer Reports looked at nine of the most popular diet plans: Weight Watcher''s, Slim-Fast, Zone Men''s Menu, Dean Ornish diet, Atkins Beginning Phase Diet Menu (1), Atkins Maintenance Weight-Loss Menu (2), eDiets, Jenny Craig, South Beach Phase One, South Beach Phase Two and Volumetrics.


The nutritional comparisons ratings came from utilization of a commercial food analysis software program. Consumer Reports editor Nancy Metcalf and her staff took a sample week-long suggested menu from each of the diet plans and analyzed the food. Then, they compared the nutritional data to the new 2005 U. S. dietary recommendations. In order to determine the diet''s effectiveness, they referred to the clinical trial data that had been previously published in a number of medical journals.


Based their comparison methods, Weight Watcher''s received a score of two on a scale of one (best) to five (worst) and received the first-place ranking ranking. Slim-Fast and the Zone Diet also received a score of two and they placed second and third, respectively. The Dean Ornish diet received a rating of three and the Atkins Ongoing Weight-Loss Plan Menu and the Atkins Beginning Phase Diet Meun came in last with a rating of four.

Unfortunately, eDiets, Jenny Craig, the South Beach Diet Phase One and Two and the Volumetrics diet plans were not rated because there was insufficient data in medical journals to validate how many pounds and how effective the weight loss was on these diets.

From the data on Table 1. Consumer Reports, June 2005 Diet Comparisons, it''s apparent that the diets are very similar in calories with calories ranging from 1,340 to 1,660 per day. The macronutrients intakes from fat, carbohydrate (CHO) and protein (PRO), however, was very different depending on the emphasis of the diet. According the report, the Atkins diet phases, as well as the Jenny Craig diet, were low in fruits and vegetables.


According to Metcalf, all of the diets were low enough in calories to produce results, but the real issue is sticking to the diet plan to attain the weight loss. Weight Watchers came out on top because their diet plans are flexible, low-calorie, low-fat and provide the participants with weekly motivational meetings to help keep them on track. While weight loss with Weight Watchers is not as fast as with some of the other diet plans, in most cases participants lose the weight and keep it off. The Slim-Fast diet, which consists of bars and beverages plus a menu plan, seemed to produce weight-loss results for the first six months but then weight loss seemed to drop off dramatically. The Atkins Diet overall scored low when compared to the U.S. Dietary Recommendations because it is so low in carbohydrate.


While all diets are not created equal, the calories are the real issue. No matter whether the diet is high in protein, low in protein, high in carbohydrate or low in carbohydrate, calories count. The important part the information provided by Consumer Reports is the fact that they compared the caloric and nutritional content of each diet for seven days and also noted how the information measured up to the 2005 U.S. Dietary Recommendations.


When trying to decide which diet is the best for you, consider this. T he best diet (or meal plan) is one you can stick with to lose weight effectively . In fact, in some cases it may just be a matter of cutting back on portion sizes or eliminating some of the foods that caused the weight gain, such as soft drinks, desserts, gigantic meals, fast-food meals, snacks . the list endless. Diets are simply something you go on for a while and then stop. Losing weight permanently means making permanent lifestyle changes.

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N., is a nutritionist with a master''s degree in clinical nutrition, a registered dietitian and has over 30 years of experience in promoting healthy active lifestyles to consumers. She is also publisher and nutrition editor of KHW and Kentuckaina HealthFitness and a runner, cyclist and hiker.

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