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Study Compares Four Popular Weight-Loss Programs

Atkins has fastest results but long-term outcome is the same as other diet plans

FRIDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- A comparison of four commercial diets including the Atkins diet and Weight Watchers suggests that all four are about equally effective when combined with group support to lose weight and maintain the loss, according to a study published in the June 3 issue of BMJ.

Helen Truby, Ph.D., of the University of Surrey in Guildford, U.K., and colleagues compared four diets: the meal replacement-based Slim-Fast Plan; Weight Watchers, combining a calorie-controlled diet and weekly group meetings; the low-carbohydrate Atkins new diet revolution; and Rosemary Conley's eat-yourself-slim diet and fitness plan, comprising a low-fat diet with weekly exercise classes. A control group continued with their existing dietary and exercise habits.

Over a six-month period, all four diet plans were similarly effective in reducing weight by an average of 5.9 kg and body fat by an average of 4.4 kg.

"No dietary differences were apparent at six months, but behavior from six to 12 months points towards an advantage of programs based on group support," the authors write. "People who had kept to their allocated diet lost about 10 percent of their weight, despite some weight rebound, but some regression to the mean effect was seen." The results provide health practitioners as well as their dieting patients with a guide as to what can be realistically achieved in one year of weight-loss activity, the authors add.

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