Weight Loss Success -- The Most Important Determinant

Adherence to diet for one year, not the specific diet plan, is the most important determinant of successful weight loss. According to the results of a randomized trial published in the January 2005 issue of JAMA. When comparing Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets, the author recommends the "low fad" approach.

The Low Fad Approach

Successful weight loss is best achieved by following the low fad approach. The low fad approach to losing weight involves moderate reductions in caloric intake with increased physical activity. There is nothing "fad" about this approach and is supported by a few studies.

The fact that the low fad approach is backed by scientific evidence is key...the fad diets currently in the market have very little credible evidence supporting their claims.

"The scarcity of data addressing the health effects of popular diets is an important public health concern, especially since patients and physicians are interested in using popular diets as individualized eating strategies for disease prevention," write Michael L. Dansinger, MD, a Preventative Medicine specialist from Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Dansinger goes on to say, "Some plans minimize carbohydrate intake without fat restriction (eg, Atkins diet), many modulate macronutrient balance and glycemic load (eg, Zone diet), and others restrict fat (eg, Ornish diet)."

So, besides the lack of evidence backing the claims made by fad diets, there is no consistency from one diet to the next within the same category of diet type. This makes it extremely difficult to study the fad diets and measure the effects on your health, let alone your chances for successful weight loss.

But there's hope for dieters...the low fad approach or "Low Fad Diets."

Successful Weight Loss...The Evidence Supporting Low Fad Diets

At a single academic medical center, 160 overweight or obese adults were randomized to the Atkins, Zone, Weight Watchers (calorie restriction), or Ornish diet. The total time of the study was one year. The age range was 22 to 72 years, mean body mass index (BMI) was 35 kg/m2 (range, 27-42 kg/m2), and all participants had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

After two months of maximum effort, participants controlled their degree of adherence to the diet. Primary outcomes were changes in baseline weight and cardiac risk factors at one year, and dietary adherence rates based on self-report.

The percent of subjects who were able to finish the study and stick with their diets for one year were 53% for Atkins, 65% for The Zone, 65% for Weight Watchers, and 50% for Ornish. Participants who discontinued the study were assumed to have no change from baseline in their weight.

At one year, mean weight loss was 6-7 pounds for Atkins, 6-9 pounds for The Zone, 6-8 pounds for Weight Watchers, and 6-10 pounds for The Ornish Diet.

Compared to subjects that quit the study before one year, the subjects that made it to one year experienced greater weight loss. In each group, approximately 25% of the initial participants maintained a one-year weight reduction of more than 5% of initial body weight, and approximately 10% of participants lost more than 10% of body weight.

The amount of weight loss was associated with the self-reported level of dietary adherence. Basically, the longer a subject stayed on the diet that they were randomized to, the more weight loss they experienced. However, the type of diet they were on had no real effect on the amount of weight loss. The type of diet also had no effect on dropping their blood pressure or lowering their cholesterol level.

Successful Weight Loss Conclusion

The author concluded, "Each popular diet modestly reduced body weight and several cardiac risk factors at one year." Overall, dietary adherence rates were low, although increased adherence was associated with greater weight loss and cardiac risk factor reductions for each diet group.

The study limitations include the inability to identify a "best diet" and the limited ability to exclude long-term safety risks.

Lastly, the author stated, "One way to improve dietary adherence rates may be to use a broad spectrum of diet options, to better match individual food preferences, lifestyles, and cardiovascular risk profiles." I have always supported the idea of more personalized weight loss plans.

The General Clinical Research Center via the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center supported this study on successful weight loss.

To Healthy Living!

Michael A. Smith, MD
Chief Medical Consultant
Diet Basics Website

The complete study can be found at JAMA. 2005;293:43-53, 96-97.

Dr. Smith is the Chief Medical Consultant for Diet Basics, a content rich weight loss web site. He is dedicated to the education of all dieters. Please visit his site at Diet Basics.

In The News:


Dietary Recommendations After Gastric Bypass Surgery

When obesity gets out of hand, unresponsive to dietary, lifestyle... Read More

Loss Your Weight

WEIGHT LOSS:Nutrition and weight-loss researchers say that some supplements can... Read More

Close Kept Secrets to Weight Loss Lesson #6

I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. You're... Read More

4 Tips for Fast Fat Loss Part I

Fat Loss Tip #1) Train With WeightsWorking out with weights... Read More

Plot Your Weight Loss Course

I'm sure you already know that weight loss and improved... Read More

The Key to Weight Loss: The INSIDE OUT Factor ? The #1 Mindset in Changing Your Weight Forever!

WHAT DOES BEING FIT REALLY MEAN?The "INSIDE-OUT" approach to fitness... Read More

Dieting? Upgrading Your Non-Conscious ? Part 1

Visualizing and Declarations are today's topics.Visualize what you want as... Read More

If We Are Eating 99% Fat Free, Why Are We 99% Fat?!

Unfortunately, obesity is reaching epidemic proportions, with over 60% of... Read More

3 Secrets Your Diet Book Wont Tell You

Are you wondering why you're not losing weight? If you're... Read More

Dieters Need More Calcium

Women on diets need more calcium than normal to avoid... Read More

Obesity, Whats The Big Deal

Nowadays, so much of the public is obese (fat) that... Read More

Thirty Hints & Tips to Achievable Weight Loss

Here are some everyday, helpful hints to get you started,... Read More

Weight Loss Plateaus -- 7 Easy Steps to Overcome It

Have you ever experienced this scenario before?"I have successfully lost... Read More

7 Keys for Reducing Calories While Eating Out

Here are seven tips for getting the calories out of... Read More

The Most Effective Fat Burning And Muscle Building Workout That Takes Just 13 Minutes

Most people who want to burn off some excess pounds... Read More

How to Eat All You Want and Still Lose Weight

How would you like to eat all you want and... Read More

How High-Carb Diet Plans Treat Carbohydrates

A number of popular diets are focused on carbohydrates. Some... Read More

Weight Loss Program: Do Your Expectations Sabotage Your Success?

When women talk about their biggest obstacles to successful weight... Read More

Low-Carb Diets: Are You Losing More than Weight?

The average American eats about twice as much protein than... Read More

Go for Scientific Weight Loss

Considering the US Center for Disease Control's advice is a... Read More

A Warning of the Complications of Gastric Bypass Surgery

Gastric bypass surgery involves stapling the stomach to make it... Read More

Weight Loss Tip ? The Importance of Lowering Your Body-Fat!

When you hear a doctor or a personal trainer say,... Read More

7 Weight Control Habits

Here are 7 simple habits that can help anyone enjoy... Read More

Rating the Fad Diets

THE 200 POINT SYSTEMWith so many different diets available, how... Read More

Turn Your Body into a 24hr Fat Burning Furnace and Still Build Muscle!

Is this even possible?Well hold on to your seat because... Read More