Any Diet A Winner Research Says


Dr. Michael Dansinger reported at a recent annual meeting of the American Heart Association about a study where he compared the effect of 4 major diet plans on the lowering of risk factors for heart disease.

Dr. Dansinger is the director of obesity research at the Tufts New England Medical Centre’s Atherosclerosis Research Lab in Boston. Originally, the objective was to see whether any of the following four diets investigated would be superior: the Atkins diet, the Ornish diet, the Zone diet and the Weight Watchers diet. In the table below there are links for each of these diet plans. Briefly, the Atkins diet is a high protein/low carbohydrate diet; the Ornish diet is a vegetarian/low-fat diet; the zone diet is a low-glycemic load/balanced protein/low fat diet; weight watchers is a calorie restricted diet.

160 obese patients were divided into 4 groups and assigend to one of these four diet plans. They were instructed in the type of diet plan they were to follow in 4 couselling sessions in the beginning of the weight loss program. The participants ranged in age from 22 to 72 years of age (average age 50) and had on average starting weight of 220 lbs.

Any Diet A Winner Research Says

Any Diet A Winner Research Says

They were to follow the diet plan for 2 months strictly and were allowed to follow less supervised for another 10 months. To the surprise of the research team under Dr. Dansinger they all lost about the same amount of weight (average of weight loss 10 lbs or 5% of body weight), in other words they were all successful with any of these programs and none was superior. Below are the results in modified tabular form.

Dr. Dansinger indicated that the focus would now have to shift from “which is the best diet plan” to “which is the best diet plan for a particular patient”. The doctor should attempt to fit the weight loss programs that fit patients’ food preferences best and that patients can easiest fit into their lifestyle. This will hopefully lead to the lowest dropout rate. This trial showed that the Zone diet and the Weight Watchers diet had the least dropout rates. But those who stayed on the Atkins or Ornish diet were successful with their weight loss program also, as these may have been fitting these patients best.

Comparison of various diets with regard to weight loss effectiveness
Diets that
were compared:
Reduction of
heart risk (Framingham score):
Dropout rates
over 1 year:
Atkins diet
12.3% 48%
Ornish diet 6.6% 50%
Zone diet 10.5% 35%
Weight Watchers
14.7% 35%

In other words, if the one diet plan does not work satisfactorily, try another one. The common denominator with all food plans was some form of calorie restriction despite all of the differences.

Based on The Medical Post, Dec. 16, 2003 (p. 15).

Here is a link to the Net Health Book’s weight loss and diet chapter.

Last edited December 8, 2012

About Ray Schilling

Dr. Ray Schilling born in Tübingen, Germany and Graduated from Eberhard-Karls-University Medical School, Tuebingen in 1971. Once Post-doctoral cancer research position holder at the Ontario Cancer Institute in Toronto, is now a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M).