Carbs are the enemy. Or maybe not. Researchers have analyzed the outcomes of clinical trials for four popular diets, and reached inconclusive results. Diets under the gun are Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers and the Zone. What? Weight Watchers may be complete BS? My world has been shattered. All those points….

There’s no question the diets do work in the short-term, but clinical studies look at long-term impacts in the battle against obesity and corresponding health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease.

The study, published in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, shows there is little long-term evidence supporting the diets. We could always go calories in / calories out. Stop watching Survivor and get off the couch. I know, novel approach.

Dr. Mark J. Eisenberg, the lead author, commented in his research on the long-term efficacy.

“With such a small number of trials looking at each diet and their somewhat conflicting results, there is only modest evidence that using these diets is beneficial in the long term.”

Diet Comparison

In addition to what are considered ‘fad’ diets, researchers also brought in what they dub ‘usual care’ as a control. This involves traditional methods to shed pounds, such as low-fat diets, nutritional counseling and behavioral intervention.

Weight Watchers: dieters lost an average 7.7-13.2 pounds after 1 year and partially regained lost weight after 2 years

Atkins: findings were inconsistent across trials

South Beach: no comparable difference with usual care in weight loss occurred in 1 year, although participants in this study were both severely obese and had undergone gastric bypass surgery

Usual care: dieters lost an average 1.8-11.9 pounds.

Clinical trials over 2 years found that dieters partially regained the weight lost during the diet. This was true for both Atkins and Weight Watchers.

Dr. Eisenberg concludes that dieting needs a more inclusive approach. “A broader lifestyle intervention, which also involves doctors and other health professionals, may be more effective.”

“This also tells doctors that popular diets on their own may not be the solution to help their patients lose weight,” he adds.

The research couldn’t conclusively rule out the efficacy of the diets, but it boils down to what you hear from people not looking to sell a book or pre-packaged food. Losing weight and heading off weight-related diseases is a lifestyle choice. It’s hard work and determination.


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