Weight Loss :: A dietary quality comparison of popular weight loss diets

The Alternate Healthy Eating Index measures and compares factors in a person’s diet that are strongly linked to reducing risk for cardiovascular disease. According to researchers at the University of Massachusetts who compared the dietary quality of several popular weight-loss plans, none of the plans achieved a perfect AHEI score, “but the Ornish, Weight Watchers high-carbohydrate and New Glucose Revolution plans were among the best performers using the AHEI and traditional dietary quality assessments.”

The researchers calculated the AHEI from meal plans taken from books or Web sites for the New Glucose Revolution, WeightWatchers, Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Ornish and 2005 U.S. Department of Agriculture MyPyramid plans.

Of a maximum possible score of 70, the AHEI scores for each weight-loss plan were:

Ornish: 64.6
WeightWatchers high-carbohydrate: 57.4
New Glucose Revolution: 57.2
South Beach Phase 2: 50.7
Zone: 49.8
MyPyramid: 48.7
Weight Watchers high-protein: 47.3
Atkins 100-g carbohydrate: 46
South Beach Phase 3: 45.6
Atkins 45-g carbohydrate: 42.3

The researchers conclude that the AHEI “is a valuable tool in selecting a weight-loss plan that maximizes both weight loss and (cardiovascular disease) prevention.” Since the study was based on meal plans as described by their creators, the researchers recommend further study “to observe what patients actually consume when following a popular weight-loss plan.”

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