Those looking to shed those extra pounds should
choose Weight Watchers International Inc. over low-carbohydrate
rival the Atkins Diet, according to the latest issue
of Consumer Reports magazine.
Citing published clinical research, nutritional
analyzes, and comparisons with U.S. dietary guidelines,
the magazine best known for comparing prices and performances
of cars and televisions said Weight Watchers topped
the list of the nine popular diet plans it studied.
"A balanced, low-fat diet plus weekly meetings give
this large commercial weight-loss program the highest
long-term adherence rate of any diet in our analysis,"
Consumer Reports said of the Weight Watchers program.
Slim-Fast, a line of meal-replacement bars and shakes
made by British food company Unilever Plc, received
the number two slot, while the low-carb "Zone" diet
developed by Dr. Barry Sears came in third.
The low-fat, vegetarian Ornish plan, created by diet
guru Dr. Dean Ornish, came in fourth.
Two separate phases of the Atkins diet, which popularized
the so-called "low-carb lifestyle" by discouraging
consumption of bread and pasta in favor of proteins
like meat and cheese, fell into the fifth and sixth
slots -- the study's lowest rankings.
Consumer Reports said Atkins "worked very well in
the short term... but its nutritional deficiencies
-- too much fat, too little fiber, too few fruits
-- depressed its overall rating and might have a negative
effect on some dieters' health."
Responding to the report, Colette Heimowitz, vice
president of education and research at Atkins Nutritionals
Inc., the diet's parent company, said Consumer Reports
used "inaccurate calculations" that misrepresented
the longer-term phase of the Atkins diet. The report
also ignored "a large body of research" that has "shown
no ill health effects" from following the Atkins diet,
Consumer Reports also studied the eDiets, Jenny Craig,
South Beach Diet, and Volumetrics weight loss regimens,
but did not rank those programs "because they lacked
data from large, long-term published clinical trials."