Diet Type Versus Diet Adherence

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Weight Watchers. Atkins. South Beach.Ornish. The Zone.

There is no doubt that all of these populardiets reduce body weight and cardiac risk.

Adhering to a diet, and not the particulartype of diet, however, seems to be all thatmatters when it comes to keeping theweight off and lowering cardiac risk.

To assess the adherence rates andeffectiveness of four popular diets (Atkins,the Zone, Weight Watchers and Ornish),Boston researchers randomized 160participants to one of the four diets.

The participants were overweight or obese,ranged in age from 22 to 72 years, and hadknown high blood pressure, dyslipidemialipid disorders and fasting high bloodglucose.

The dieting participants were followedbetween July 2000 and January 2002.After the first two months, participantscontrolled their degree of adherence to therespective diets.

“Overall dietary adherence rates were low,”say the researchers, “although increasedadherence was associated with greaterweight loss and cardiac risk factor for eachdiet group.”

Participants in the Ornish group lost themost weight (7.25 pounds), followed byThe Zone (7 pounds), Weight Watchers (6.6pounds) and Atkins (4.6 pounds).

The amount of weight loss was associatedwith self-reported dietary adherencelevel but not with diet type, accordingto the researchers. In addition, each dietsignificantly reduced the participants’ LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio by about 10.

Journal of the American Medical Association,January 5, 2005

Food editor note: The Weight Watcherand Ornish diets promote exercise as partof their “program.” In addition, the Ornishprogram has a relaxation/imagery/meditationcomponent, which is an integral part ofparticipants’ success.


Diets Followedin the Study

Atkins Diet: Carbs areinitially restricted to 20grams per day and thengradually increased to 50grams per day.

Weight Watchers:Portion size is limited andcalorie load is restricted tobetween 1,200 and 1,600calories per day.

The Zone: The goal is acarbohydrate-fat-proteinratio of 40:30:30.

Ornish Diet: A vegetariandiet allowing only 10 percent of calories from fat.

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