What Is the Best Diet?
Consumer Reports: Volumetrics Is the Best Diet Plan; Best Life Diet Is Top Book
WebMD News Archive
May 7, 2007 -- Volumetrics is the best
carefully researched diet plan, and The Best Life Diet is the best
diet book, Consumer Reports says.
Volumetrics is based on the research of Penn State nutritional science
professor Barbara Rolls, PhD. The Volumetrics diet stresses eating foods with
low "energy density" -- that is, foods with relatively few calories per
portion. Such foods include fruits, salads, and soups.
The Best Life Diet, by personal trainer and exercise physiologist Bob
Greene, stresses exercise and gives personalized advice, including recipes and
a recommended eating schedule.
To rate the diet plans, Consumer Reports Senior Project Editor Nancy
Metcalf and colleagues reviewed diet studies published in major medical
journals. After Volumetrics, Metcalf's team ranked Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Slim-Fast
"very close together."
The report gave middling ratings to eDiets and to Barry Sear's The Zone Diet. Bringing up the
rear were Dean Ornish's Ornish Diet and, in last
place, the Atkin's Diet.
To rate the diet books -- newer diets that, according to Consumer
Reports, "have not been put to the acid test of a large clinical
trial" -- the CR staff applied their own criteria and also got input
from a panel of nutritional experts.
After The Best Life Diet, CR ranked three books as "very
close to one another:" Eat, Drink, & Weigh Less by Mollie Katzen
and Walter Willett, MD; You On a Diet, by Michael F. Roizen, MD, and
Mehmet C. Oz, MD; and The Abs Diet by David Zinczenko with Ted
Ranked last among the diet books -- behind The South Beach Diet by Arthur
Agatston, MD; and The Sonoma Diet by Connie
Guttersen, PhD, RD -- was Ultra-Metabolism by Mark Hyman, MD.
The ratings appear in the June issue of Consumer Reports.
Diet Authors Respond
"We set up criteria that make sense to us, and let the chips fall where
they may -- hopefully not chocolate chips," Metcalf tells WebMD. "The
things that go into the rating are the nutritional analysis -- we analyze a
week's worth of menus straight off the book or web site -- and we also rate
them according to how well they conform to the 2005 U.S. dietary guidelines,
which we think is a good consensus on a healthy diet."
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."