HealthDay News — Although there are plenty of famous diets for weight loss, none stand out from the pack when it comes to lasting results, according to a review published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

To compare the efficacy of the Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets at ≥ 12 months, Renee Atallah, MSc, of the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues identified 12 randomized controlled trials that examined the effects of these diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors.

All trials included in the review lasted at least one 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 Watches, and the Zone diet head-to-head.

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Tested against usual care, Weight Watchers was the most consistent; the diet helped people lose an average of eight to 13 pounds in the first year. Only one trial tested the low-fat South Beach diet, and it was no more effective than the American Heart Association’s recommendations on low-fat eating.

Long-term results of the Atkins diet — the most popular low-carb diet — were mixed. Weight loss at one year ranged from about seven to 24 pounds, although the Atkins diet was not consistently better than low-fat diets overall.

When compared head-to-head, the Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Zone diets all showed similar effects: they helped people lose an average of four to 10 pounds in a year.

“Despite millions of dollars spent on popular commercial diets, data are conflicting and insufficient to identify one popular diet as being more beneficial than the others,” concluded the researchers.


  1. Atallah R et al. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 2014; doi: 10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.113.000723