5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports Looks at Factors for Successful Diet

Posted May 7, 2007 6:03 p.m. EDT
Updated May 7, 2007 6:38 p.m. EDT

Temptations involving food are everywhere, and they seem especially true when you are trying to lose weight. Many diet plans jockey for your attention, but Consumer Reports recently analyzed a whole host of diet programs and looked at the latest scientific data on which type is the best.

"Finally, scientists have started studying the experts, which are people who have actually managed to lose weight and keep it off. And through those studies, they've really come up with a lot of strategies that seem to work," said Nancy Metcalf, of Consumer Reports.

The strategies include starting the day with a good breakfast, which is what 78 percent of the study's successful dieters did. Seventy-five percent weighed themselves at least weekly to keep on track.

Consumer Reports rated eight diet plans that have been studied in clinical trials, including Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Slim-Fast, and Atkins.

"We looked at actual scientific studies of the diets and we rated them on how much weight people lost, how easy they were to stick to, and how well they conformed with U.S. Dietary Guidelines," Metcalf said.

Consumer Reports choice for the most successful diet? Perhaps one you haven't heard of. It is outlined in the book, “The Volumetrics Eating Plan."

“It's based on research that's been done at Penn State University," Metcalf said. "The principle is to fill up on low-density foods -- foods that have a lot of volume for the amount of calories."

For example, instead of having a piece of coffee cake for breakfast, for the same 400 calories, you could have a bowl of oat cereal, a cup of yogurt, a half of a cantaloupe and orange juice. Testers found since the foods are "low-density," they are likely to fill you up sooner so you do not overeat.

After Volumetrics, Consumer Reports found Weight Watchers is the second-best diet, with Jenny Craig a close third. However, Consumer Reports said keep in mind that even the highest-rated diets generally produce less than a 10-percent weight loss after a year.