Any diet works, if it’s one you can stick to

A new study comparing the outcomes of popular diets, such as Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and the Atkins Diet among others, has not found any real difference in weight loss between them.

Credit: TipsTimes
Credit: TipsTimes (Flickr)

The research, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, analysed the results of 48 clinical trials involving 7200 overweight and obese adults.

After six months, people on low-carbohydrate diets lost 8.6 more kilograms than those who were not on a diet, while those on low-fat diets lost 7.7 more kilos than those on no diet. After 12 months about one kilo of that difference was gone, and there was no difference between low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets.

“Our findings should be reassuring to clinicians and the public that there is no need for a one-size-fits-all approach to dieting because many different diets appear to offer considerable weight loss benefits,” the authors wrote in the paper.

“This is important because many patients have difficulties adhering to strict diets that may be particularly associated with cravings or be culturally challenging (such as low-carbohydrate diets).”

When asked for his reaction to the study, Professor Tony Blakely from the Department of Public Health at the University of Otago, Wellington, told Stuff that if dieters enforced the same amount of energy restriction, then they would lose the same amount of weight with any of the diets.

However, he cautions that while reducing energy intake is a good starting point for tackling obesity “…there are other considerations about what you’re eating and its effect on different diseases: for example, its effect on cancers and cardiovascular disease.”

The study has been widely covered in New Zealand and global media:

Stuff: Guess what? Any diet works
BBC News: Any diet will do, say researchers, if you stick to it
The Daily Mail: Atkins or Weight Watchers? Doesn’t matter!
Huffington Post: All Popular Diets Do the Exact Same Thing, So Pick One You Like
Examiner: JAMA study shows no difference in effectiveness of branded diet
Cosmopolitan: Science Finally Figured Out What the Most Effective Diet Is
National Post: Atkins? Ornish? The Biggest Loser? The branded diet industry is huge, but which one is best?
Vox: The one thing you need to know about weight loss and diet studies
Today Show: Low-carb or low-fat? New study finds surprising results
Fox News: Diet programs work, but the brand doesn’t matter