(HealthDay News) — There are plenty of famous-name diets for weight loss, but none stands out from the pack when it comes to lasting results, according to a review published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Renee Atallah, a research assistant at Jewish General Hospital/McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues looked at 12 clinical trials that tested at least one of four popular diets: Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers and the Zone. 

All of the trials lasted at least 1 year, and most compared one commercial program against usual care for overweight patients, such as advice on low-fat eating. Two trials compared Atkins, Weight Watchers and the Zone head-to-head.

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The researchers found that tested against usual care, Weight Watchers was the most consistent — helping people lose an average of 8 to 13 lbs in the first year. 

Only one trial tested South Beach — a lower-carbohydrate diet —and it was no more effective than the American Heart Association’s recommendations on low-fat eating. 

When it came to Atkins — the most famous of the low-carb diets — the results were more mixed, Atallah’s team reported. The weight loss at 1 year ranged from about 7 to 24 lbs, but Atkins was not consistently better than low-fat diets. 

Further, in the head-to-head trials, Atkins, Weight Watchers and the Zone all showed similar effects, helping people lose an average of 4 to 10 lbs in a year.

And in the few trials that lasted 2 years — all looking at Atkins or Weight Watchers — people often regained some of the weight they lost. 

“From our results, no weight-loss diet came across as a clear winner,” Atallah told HealthDay.


  1. Atallah R et al. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2014;doi:10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.113.000723.