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Diet Authors Respond continued...

For the diet plans, that may not have been the best strategy, says low-carb-diet expert Eris Westman, MD, associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center. Westman was a member of the Consumer Reports expert panel that helped rank the diet books.

"When you compare a weight loss diet to a healthy-eating guideline, of course it is going to look bad because it is restricted in calories and, perhaps, in carbohydrates," Westman tells WebMD. "This is a common point of confusion. If you have diabetes, can you follow the healthy-diet guidelines? No! You are not healthy: You have diabetes and need a different kind of diet."

Westman says that even though the Atkins Diet got the lowest ranking among diet plans, the highly tested plan is more likely to work than the untested diet books that got more of Consumer Reports' coveted red bubbles (high scores) and fewer of the dreaded black bubbles (low scores).

The recipient of many blank bubbles (average scores), Dean Ornish, MD, says Consumer Reports misrepresents his diet and overlooks "30 years of studies published in peer-reviewed journals that support our claims."

"It's not only important to lose weight but to do so in a way that is most healthful," Ornish tells WebMD. "The diet I recommend is based primarily on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products, and a little fish, and is low in refined carbohydrates and high in whole grains. Most authorities consider this the most healthful way to eat."

Moreover, Ornish says he is mystified as to why the Volumetrics diet gets a high score while his gets a low score, as both stress low-energy-density foods.

Differences in Fat Restriction

Volumetrics creator Rolls says she and Ornish differ mainly in fat restriction. Ornish's diet stresses reducing fat intake to 10% of calories -- but only for people trying to reverse heart disease or prostate cancer.

For weight loss, Ornish simply advises people that the fewer fats they eat, the more weight they will lose, since fat is the most energy-dense food type. Rolls says fat intake can be offset by other foods.

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