The Only 4 Diets That Actually Help People to Eat Better and Eat Less

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U.S. News has released its ranking of 20 diet plans, but only four -- from Weight Watchers to Eco-Atkins -- worked for survey respondents

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U.S. News has just released its rankings of 20 popular diet plans -- the "Best Diets for Healthy Eating."

The top five:

  • DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
  • TLC (Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes)
  • Mediterranean
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Volumetrics

These may be healthy, but from the standpoint of survey respondents, they don't work very well. To the question "Did this diet work for you?" the "no's" hugely outnumber the "yes's" for a whopping 16 of the 20 diets.

The four exceptions:

  • Weight Watchers (#6)
  • Vegetarian Diet (#9)
  • Eco-Atkins (#15)
  • Vegan (#16)

Diets are about maintaining or losing weight. This means balancing food energy against the amount of energy used in metabolism and activity. To lose weight, you have to eat less or move more or do both. It also helps to eat better and make healthier food choices.

All of the diets on the U.S. News list are based on healthy food choices. But these are the only four diets on the list that seem to help a majority of people to eat better and eat less.

Image: John T Takai/Shutterstock.

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This post also appears on Food Politics, an Atlantic partner site.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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