Weight loss programs and science

Many different weight loss fads exist that promise some kind of quick fix. The question is, which of these are allowed to guarantee weight loss to their customers?  There have been many studies to test different programs designed to promote weight loss. In this post, I will list the findings of these types of studies.

  • Researchers looked at Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers, and Ornish diets. 160 participants were randomly assigned to one of these four different programs. The participants were followed for almost two years. After the first year, the following mean averages were found in terms of loss, 2.1 kg with Atkins, 3.2 kg with Zone, 3.0 kg with Weight Watchers, and 3.3 kg with Ornish (Dansinger et al, 2015). According to WebMD Ornish is created to help people with heart disease lose weight. The focus of this diet is on eating low-fat.
  • Other researchers looked at Atkins, Weight Watchers, Slim-fast, and Rosemary Conley. They found that short-term, Atkins dieters lost the most amount, but long-term all programs proved to be effective (Truby et al, 2006).
  • Different researchers looked at the following programs:  eDiets.com, Health Management Resources, Take Off Pounds Sensibly, OPTIFAST, and Weight Watchers. These researchers found that Weight Watchers’ dieters lost the most weight after two years. They had lost on average of 3.2% of their initial body weight. However, the researchers conclude that the results of all these programs are in fact ‘suboptimal’ in the broad sense (Tsai, & Wadden, 2005).
  • Johnston et al. (2014) conclude that low-carb and low-fat diets can result in a weight loss of 6 kg in months. They found this by looking at different databases containing data on different diet programs.
  • Heshka et al. (2003) looked at the weight loss differences between people who followed a commercial diet program and people who tried to lose weight on their own (self-help). People in the self-help group got access to information related to nutrition but had to figure it out on their own. The researchers found that the people who followed the commercial diet slightly lost more weight that those in the self-help condition.
  • Researchers also looked at low-carb, low-fat, and the Mediterranean diet. The low-carb and the Mediterranean diet ended up in the highest amount of weight loss. However, the authors of the research article conclude that a diet tailored to one’s own specific needs will result in the best outcomes (Shai et al, 2008).

Dansinger, M. L., Gleason, J. A., Griffith, J. L., Selker, H. P., & Schaefer, E. J. (2005). Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction: a randomized trial. Jama, 293(1), 43-53.
Heshka, S., Anderson, J. W., Atkinson, R. L., Greenway, F. L., Hill, J. O., Phinney, S. D., … & Pi-Sunyer, F. X. (2003). Weight loss with self-help compared with a structured commercial program: a randomized trial. Jama, 289(14), 1792-1798.
Johnston, B. C., Kanters, S., Bandayrel, K., Wu, P., Naji, F., Siemieniuk, R. A., … & Jansen, J. P. (2014). Comparison of weight loss among named diet programs in overweight and obese adults: a meta-analysis. Jama, 312(9), 923-933.
Shai, I., Schwarzfuchs, D., Henkin, Y., Shahar, D. R., Witkow, S., Greenberg, I., … & Tangi-Rozental, O. (2008). Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(3), 229-241.
Truby, H., Baic, S., Fox, K. R., Livingstone, M. B. E., Logan, C. M., Macdonald, I. A., … & Millward, D. J. (2006). Randomised controlled trial of four commercial weight loss programmes in the UK: initial findings from the BBC “diet trials”. Bmj, 332(7553), 1309-1314.
Tsai, A. G., & Wadden, T. A. (2005). Systematic review: an evaluation of major commercial weight loss programs in the United States. Annals of internal medicine, 142(1), 56-66.

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