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Weight Watchers Tops
Consumer Reports Diet Ratings


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, Heimowitz said.

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."


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