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Sep 05, 2014

Weight Watchers and Atkins Equally as Effective

There’s little difference between trademarked diet programs, finds new study.

There’s little difference between trademarked diet programs like Weight Watchers and the Atkins diet, according to a review of nearly 50 clinical trials.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, this study compared the most popular branded diets to determine which, if any, is the most effective. Focusing on the low-carbohydrate Atkins diet and Weight Watchers, which limits fat and caloric intake, researchers analyzed 48 clinical trials including more than 7,200 individuals. Each study assigned overweight or obese individuals to a low-fat or low-carb diet and monitored weight loss for up to a year.

After analysis, researchers found that individuals following both Atkins and Weight Watchers had significant weight loss in just six months. Using either diet, adults lost an average of nearly 20 pounds in six months and were able to keep the weight off after a year.

Differences in weight loss between the low-fat vs. low-carb diet were so small that authors recommend either diet to help patients lose weight. What’s most important, authors suggest, is which type of diet is easier for a patient to adhere to over time. For some individuals, sticking to a low-carb diet like the Atkins diet is easier than the Weight Watchers diet, which promotes moderation. For others, limiting intake of carbohydrates like bread and cereal is difficult to maintain long-term, compared to watching fat and caloric intake. Achieving a healthy weight is key to good health and according to study findings, both low-carb and low-fat diets are effective at helping individuals achieve their weight loss goals.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is a heart-healthy diet?

  • A heart-healthy diet is full of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains and includes low-fat dairy, fish and nuts as part of a balanced diet. It’s important to limit intake of added sugars, salt (sodium) and bad fats (saturated and trans fats).

  • What is a healthy body mass index?
  • Body mass index, referred to as BMI, is a measurement used to estimate levels of body fat based on your height and weight. CardioSmart offers a BMI calculator to help you know your numbers. For adults, BMI under 18.5 is underweight, 18.5–24.9 is normal, 25.0–29.9 is overweight, and over 30 is considered obese.

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