You may have already seen this in the news: Consumer Reports Health just released their ranking of the 7 most popular diets and Jenny Craig came out on top by a wide margin. The ranking is based on 3 areas: 1. adherence to U. S. government nutrition guidelines, 2. ability to produce weight loss in the short term as well as the long term, 3. cost and complexity of the diet plan. Jenny Craig did well in part because the program takes the guesswork and stress out of meal preparations. Dieters buy prepackaged meals and receive weekly counseling sessions. The main drawback is cost as the prepackaged meals can cost several hundred dollars each month. However, an impressive 92% stayed on the Jenny Craig program for 2 years and maintained an average weight loss of 8% of their original body weight.
I was surprised to see Slim Fast ranked number 2. I knew nothing about the Slim Fast Diet beyond seeing the shakes and bars in the grocery store so I did a little research. The website seems to promote Slim Fast as a plan to slim down quickly for a special occasion, not a plan for serious weight loss. Slim Fast encourages you to eat 3 nutritious snacks a day; either a 100 calorie Slim Fast Bar, nuts, fruits or vegetables. For breakfast and lunch, you drink a Slim Fast shake or eat a bar. Dinner is limited to 500 calories and they provide recipes to help you stay in that calorie range. Consumer Reports did say that the plan fails in that few people tend to stick with it for very long. Personally, it wouldn't take long for me to get sick of drinking a shake or eating those bars twice a day.
Weight Watchers came in third, a big drawback being that the program is high in sodium. The studies done seem to show that counseling or peer support groups contribute greatly to a program's success and that the best diet for anyone is the one they can stick with. I also feel that a diet program should encourage exercise and teach healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Many of us know all too well that you can't lose the weight just once if you don't change your ways for the better.
I personally think that Americans are going to have to relearn how to eat. When you go to the grocery store, make sure you are buying plenty of "real" foods such as vegetables, fruits and fresh meats. If your cart is filled with spaghettio's, chips, cookies, frozen pizzas, Hawaiian punch and more, there is no hope for your waistline. I always say someone in the family has to cook and that doesn't mean putting Marie Calendar's in the oven. Americans are going to have to eat out less to avoid high calorie, high sodium meals as well.
If you want to read more on the Consumer Reports findings, simply google it or go to Good Morning America's website where they reported the story this morning.