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Diet Plans Ranked by The Magazines – How Good Are The Rankings?

U.S. News’s first-ever rankings, released last week, evaluated diets in seven categories, including short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, easiness to follow, and nutritional completeness. The government-endorsed DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) snagged the top spot overall.

Weight Watchers came in #1, while Jenny Craig and the Raw Food Diet came in #2. The Glycemic Index (used by NutriSystem) and the Paleo Diet came in at the bottom, due to their alleged lack of scientific evidence and long-term weight maintenance. The Dean Ornish diet came in best for heart health.

The best commercial diet plans included Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, then Slim-Fast, while the Atkins Diet and Medifast came in last.

Best Diets cuts through the clutter of claims and half-truths to deliver the facts about 20 diets, including many, such as Weight Watchers, that are household names and others, such as the DASH Diet, that should be.

A U.S. News team spent six months researching the diets, mining medical journals, government reports, and other sources. An in-depth profile was then drawn up for every diet that explains how it works, whether its claims add up or fall short, and what risks it might pose, along with insights into living on the diet, not just reading about it.

A panel of 22 recognized experts in diet and nutrition and specialists in diabetes and heart disease reviewed the U.S. News profiles. Then the experts rated each diet from 1 to 5 in seven categories: short-term weight loss, long-term weight loss, how easy it is to follow, its nutritional completeness, its safety, its ability to prevent or manage diabetes, and its ability to prevent or manage heart disease.

See results and methodology here:



In Marketdata’s opinion, this is NOT as good a ranking as it could be. Why? Because the researchers didn’t rate the diet plans on two of the three key components of successful weight loss: exercise and motivational coaching/support. The emphasis here is all on the food and nutrition. In addition, they only analyzed 20 diet plans. Marketdata, via BestDietForMe.com’s online survey, tracks 60 programs. Therefore, this ranking get a “thumbs down” from us.

Of course, the diet companies that came out on top will tout the results as proof that their program is best. But, in our opinion, both of these studies are incomplete.

Consumer Reports Magazine

In Mid-May, Consumer Reports released its own rankings on the leading diet programs on the market. They had Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast and Weight Watchers taking the top 3 spots, derived by aggregating hundreds of published studies over the past six years. They measured nutrition, daily calories, drop-out rates and both short and long-term weight loss scores from clinical studies.

The CR study does admit that it was not able to measure the effectiveness of counseling, community or a support system element in a successful diet program due to lack of published information. But, they note that Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and NutriSystem all are known for their counseling and support–whether it’s in-person or online.


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