Intended for healthcare professionals


Comparative weight loss with popular diets

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 01 April 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1269
  1. Helen Truby, professor1,
  2. Terry P Haines, professor2
  1. 1Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  2. 2School of Primary and Allied Health Care, Monash University, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: H Truby helen.truby{at}

Choice of diet is less important than maintaining any weight loss achieved

As most adults in many developed countries are above a healthy weight,1 it is not surprising that the problem of obesity has led to considerable commercial interest in providing solutions. In the United States, the commercial weight loss market is estimated to be worth $72bn (£60bn; €66bn) annually.2 Commercialisation of dietary interventions is an important strategy for ensuring wider community access and sustainable delivery. However, the public need to know and understand what they are getting for their money and appreciate what they can expect in terms of health gain by following a popular diet.

In a linked paper, Ge and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.m696) report a novel network meta-analysis examining weight loss and changes in cardiovascular risk factors after six and 12 months of participants’ following various popular diets.3 Their review is extensive, synthesises outcomes from 121 trials, and focuses on the comparative effectiveness of the different macronutrient contents of these diets.

The authors found, …

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