In an attempt to discover which of the more popular diets delivered the best results in terms of weight loss and improvement of cardiovascular risks, Dr. Mark Eisenberg and his colleagues took a closer look at Weight Watchers, the Zone Diets, Atkins and South Beach. And what they discovered was rather shocking.
It seems that the reviews offered by people undergoing these programs did not fully support the claims the companies made. Eisenberg found that the diets did work to a certain degree but didn’t live up to the claims they made in terms of their efficiency in helping people lose weight. The study’s results were published in an American Heart Association journal, namely “Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.”
The study was comprised of 10 control trials that each lasted a minimum of 12 months. And the results were quite telling. When the study compared the Weight Watchers program against normal care, it was found that people on Weight Watchers lost between 3.5 and 6 kilograms, whereas people following normal care lost between 0.8 and 5.4 kilograms. However, the dieters put some of the weight back within two years.
Normal care refers to standard weight loss methods, including adopting a low-fat diet, receiving nutritional counselling and undergoing behavioral intervention to promote weight loss.
Dr. Eisenberg, who is a McGill University professor of medicine, stated that there were many factors causing the spike in obesity, including easy access to fast food and processed foods, as well as a high percentage of people’s calories coming from such foods. He mentioned that there has been significant effort put into campaigns to improve public health by promoting smoking cessation and he predicts that a similar approach may be necessary in “future decades” for nutrition. He feels a more holistic approach is required to handle the issue of obesity and that doctors and health care professionals can be of much greater assistance than these popular diets.
The weight loss industry has catapulted to gigantic proportions. Last year alone, the weight-loss market in the United States exceeded $66 billion, which is more than the entire GDP of quite a few countries, including Cyprus and Jamaica.