Is Weight Watchers the Best Diet?

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It is, according to U.S. News, which recently ranked various diets on flexibility, effectiveness, ease of use, and taste. They advised against diets that are too restrictive and difficult to follow.

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While everyone is arguing about the effect of high- and low-protein diets on weight gain, U.S. News has come out with another one of its rankings, this time on diets.

The committee of experts advising U.S. News ranked diets on the basis of ease of use, taste, flexibility, and effectiveness. They advised against diets that are too restrictive, require or eliminate certain foods, or are otherwise difficult to follow.

They ranked Weight Watchers #1 as the best weight-loss diet:

Dieters can eat whatever they want as long as they don't exceed their allotted daily points. No foods are forbidden, occasional treats are encouraged, and the plan emphasizes all-you-can-eat fresh fruits and veggies. Experts liked the optional weekly meetings, since support is crucial to compliance. They also applauded Weight Watchers for being realistic, flexible, and filling. It scored more than a full star above the average in this category and was crowned the easiest diet to follow.

Weight-loss diets must do two things: restrict calories, and provide balanced nutrient intake. As we explain in Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics (publication date April 1), this boils down to "eat less" and "eat better."

Diets have to allow you to eat foods you love (in moderation, of course).

Food is a great source of pleasure and many of us live to eat. Not being able to eat the way we used to is one of the great tragedies of getting older. Alas!

To the extent that any diet plan helps you eat less, eat better, and enjoy what you are eating, it ought to work.

Image: vesna cvorovic/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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