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Popular diets yield only modest benefits, systematic review finds

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 17 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6846
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Four of the most popular weight loss diets in North America yield similar but modest weight loss in the long term and their cardiovascular benefits are unclear, a systematic review of randomised controlled trials has found.

The review was published online on 11 November by the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.1 The senior author was Mark J Eisenberg, professor of medicine at the Jewish General Hospital affiliated with McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

In their review the researchers analysed trials that looked at the effectiveness of the Atkins, South Beach, and Zone diets and the Weight Watchers programme. These three book based diets all emphasise a low carbohydrate intake, and Weight Watchers is a behaviour modification programme organised around weekly group sessions where …

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