In our never-ending quest to drop those last five pounds, Americans regularly turn to diets of every kind. While the trend lately has been moving toward healthy eating lifestyles like the paleo diet and going gluten-free, many people still choose paid diet programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. And new research says those paid diet programs may actually be worth the money.
A new study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine reviewed studies on 11 commercial diet programs and found that Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig were the only two that showed promise of long-term weight loss results, Reuters reports. Other diet programs considered were: Nutrisystem, Health Management Resources, Medifast, OPTIFAST, Atkins, SlimFast, The Biggest Loser Club, Lose It! and eDiets.
According to the review, dieters on Weight Watchers lost 8 pounds on average, and kept it off for at least 12 months. Those following Jenny Craig lost an average of 15 pounds. On the other end of the spectrum, extremely low-cal diets like Health Management Resources, Medifast and OPTIFAST showed promising initial weight loss, but were not as effective over time.
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So what makes WW and Jenny stand out? Dr. Christina C. Wee of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston told Reuters that it may be because they’re highly structured and often include in-person social support.
This doesn’t mean that the other diet programs are ineffective; what it does mean is that there just isn’t enough scientific evidence to support them as being effective for losing weight and also keeping it off long term, study author Kimberly Gudzune said. “They may show short term weight loss with no long term results, or in the long term people start to begin to regain the weight,” she told Reuters.
Commercial diet programs, of course, are only one option. If you’re trying to lose weight, talk to your doctor about what might be best for you, and how to set healthy, realistic goals. It may even be best for you to follow a healthy, less structured diet (like the Mediterranean diet), and find support and counseling from a dietician. Dieting and nutrition is a highly individualized thing, and there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
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