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20 Most Popular Diet Web Sites Rated

Ratings by Consumer Reports' WebWatch Show Wide Range in Quality
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 29, 2006 -- The 20 most popular diet web sites are all over the map, in terms of quality, according to a new report.

The report comes from Consumer Reports WebWatch and the Health Improvement Institute.

Three of the top 20 web sites were rated "excellent," two were rated "very good," three were rated "good," six "fair," and six "poor."

"I think clearly there are some good web sites that publish information that will be useful for people trying to lose weight," Consumer Reports' Beau Brendler tells WebMD.

"But out of the top 20 sites, there are a lot of them that really need some work," says Brendler, who directs Consumer Reports WebWatch.

"Diet sites that are pushing one particular diet or one particular way of losing weight, we generally found were not as good as those that provided in-depth information on health and weight loss," Brendler says.

Diet Sites Rated

"We started with Nielsen net ratings traffic data and projected some of our own methodological exclusions to come up with the top 20 most trafficked diet sites," Brendler says.

"Obviously, they're the most popular and so we felt those were the most critical to evaluate in terms of information quality and site quality," he adds.

Site-by-Site Ratings

Here are the ratings. Sites within a rating category are not ranked higher or lower than others in that same category.

Excellent:

  • Aetna InteliHealth
  • MayoClinic.com
  • MedicineNet.com (a WebMD company)

Very Good:

  • National Institutes of Health
  • WebMD

Good:

  • eDiets.com
  • RealAge
  • WeightWatchers.com

Fair:

  • About Health & Fitness
  • MSN Health & Fitness
  • The Biggest Loser Club
  • The Sonoma Diet
  • The South Beach Diet
  • Yahoo! Health

Poor:

  • AOL Health
  • Healthology
  • Light 'n Fit
  • Prevention.com
  • QualityHealth.com
  • TrimLife

Advice for Users

"There's so much information out there now hitting people about how to lose weight this way or that way," Brendler says.

"Consumers really need to pay attention, but we think that obviously a ratings list like this is one way to help people figure out the best place to spend their time for getting good diet information."

He offers this advice for people looking for dieting information on the Internet:

  • Look at how well the sites separate advertising from editorial content.
  • Check the source's medical or nutritional qualifications.
  • Read the fine print.

"So many diet ads nowadays say that you're going to lose10 pounds in a week, but if you read the small print at the bottom of the screen or the bottom of the ad, they usually say things like, 'Not typical results. Individual results may vary,'" Brendler says.

"Those are all things that consumers should pay attention to and those should be red flags for them, that perhaps what they're looking at is not as good as some source of diet advice on a site where there are less commercial influences," he says.

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