Which Diet Plans Are Most Popular? Dieters Choose
Jan. 3, 2013 — Is weight loss one of your New Year’s resolutions?
If so, you might get some valuable guidance from a new survey of more than 9,000 Consumer Reports readers who have been there, done that.
The readers ranked do-it-yourself plans and commercial plans.
MyFitnessPal, a free web site and smartphone app, got top satisfaction marks in the survey.
Weight Watchers got the highest satisfaction marks of the four commercial diet plans rated by dieters.
“What you are seeing here is the judgment of people who have been on the diets,” says Nancy Metcalf, senior program editor for Consumer Reports.
The ratings are not based on the safety of the diet nor on nutrition experts’ assessments.
The satisfaction scores took into account the cost of the plan, ease of use, and weight loss, Metcalf says.
There were enough responses to tally results for 13 diet plans and tools.
The full results are published in the February issue of Consumer Reports.
How the Plans Stack Up
Of a possible 100 points, here is how the four commercial diet plans rated by readers fared:
- Weight Watchers, 74. The plan assigns a “PointsPlus” value to each food based on the nutrient content. It encourages physical activity. Users get support at meetings or online.
- Medifast, 70. This is a low-calorie meal replacement plan.
- Jenny Craig, 66. The approach includes branded meal replacements and personal consultations with a staff member.
- Nutrisystem, 56. This approach includes branded meal replacements and online tools for weight control.
Nine do-it-yourself plans were rated. Here is how they fared on the same 100-point satisfaction scale.
- MyFitnessPal, 83. This free web site and smartphone app includes a food and exercise diary.
- Paleo Diet, 80. This ”eat-like-a-caveman” approach includes eating lean meats, fruit and fish, and non-starchy vegetables. Users avoid cereal grains, legumes, dairy, and processed foods.
- Mediterranean Diet, 77. Users eat plant-based meals with olive oil and limit dairy, red meat, and refined carbohydrates such as sweets.
- SparkPeople, 76. This online app tracks food and exercise and offers menu plans.
- South Beach Diet, 72. Users focus on healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables.
- Glycemic Index Diet, 71. The approach focuses on eating foods that do not cause blood sugar to spike quickly.
- Low-Carb Diet, 71. This diet focuses on general restriction of carbohydrate-containing foods.
- Atkins Diet, 70. Followers restrict carbohydrate-containing foods initially. Then they gradually re-introduce some.
- Slim-Fast, 60. Users eat or drink Slim-Fast shakes, bars, and snacks. They also eat some ”regular” food.
Weight Loss, Satisfaction Not Linked
“Weight loss didn’t correlate well with satisfaction,” Metcalf says. Dieters balanced weight loss with other factors, she says, such as how easy the plan was to follow.
Overall, men lost more than women did, she found. Overall, the median loss (half more, half less) was 18 pounds for men and 15 for women. However, that loss was often enough to move from the obese category to overweight or the overweight to healthy weight category.
Those people on Medifast lost more than those on any other diet. Men lost 20 to 43 pounds; women, 14 to 40.