Consumer Reports Rates Popular Diets

Christine Miller Health Guide
  • A lot has been written about the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and weight for people with rheumatoid arthritis.  Being overweight adds extra stress to joints, especially the hips, knees and ankles.  This stress can aggravate RA in those joints.  Being overweight also decreases a person’s energy level and stamina, which then creates a cycle of low energy and lack of motion which leads to more stiffness and pain, less exercise, more weight gain, etc.
    There is also an overwhelming amount of information out there about how to lose those extra pounds.  Every diet imaginable has books and studies and people on TV and the Internet to tell everyone how this is the best diet or program out there. 
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    Have you tried any of the diet books or plans discussed below?  What about RA specific diets?  Share your comments, tips and success stories with us.
    A panel of nutritional experts has rated, for Consumer Reports, eight of the most popular diet plans (such as Atkins and Weight Watchers) and seven of the most popular diet books.  The plans and books were rated by the quality of the meal plans, ease of use incorporation of exercise and the validity of the nutritional science.
    Consumer Reports was also careful to point out that while a typical person will probably do better with one of the higher ranking books or diet plans, every individual will have different results. Higher scores went to weight loss plans that had nutritionally balanced menus that don’t require people to forsake certain kinds of foods, since most people can’t stick to elimination diets over time.  The Consumer Reports website has a helpful article containing their own tips and suggestions for successful weight loss.  Consumer reports based this on information in the National Weight Control Registry and on their own survey conducted with CR subscribers.
    Consumer Reports’ recommendations are:
    • Never skip breakfast.
    • Limit fatty foods, but allow some healthier fats such as monounsaturated fats and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acid.
    • Practice proper portion control and pay attention to calories, not just fat.
    • Definitely exercise and raise your activity level with housework and yard work as well as dedicated exercise.
    • Restrict refined carbs found in foods like white bread, cookies and soda pop, but don’t eliminate whole grains and other carbs altogether.
    • Fill up on low-density foods like broth-based soup and salads loaded with fruits and vegetables.
    • Weigh yourself often.
    • Limit your variety of food.  CR calls this “boring yourself thin.”  Eating a variety of high calorie foods actually increases the appetite, so avoid buffets.  A boring diet will help you eat less.
    The Volumetrics plan was ranked the highest among the diet plans because it doesn’t ban foods, but emphasizes foods that will fill you up with fewer calories per bite – low energy density foods- such as fruits and vegetables.  The plan was designed by nutrition researchers at Penn State University and received its high ranking in part for the science that went into planning the program. Weight Watchers scored second, even though it has the highest record of long-term adherence.  Weight Watchers was ranked highly for its food scoring system and education on portion control.  Jenny Craig and Slim-Fast rounded out the top four diet plans.
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    Among the books, “The Best Life Diet” was ranked the highest for its uncomplicated recipes and nutritional meal plans.  Others in the top four were: “Eat, Drink, & Weigh Less,”  “You: On a Diet,” and “The Abs Diet.”
    The lowest-ranked three books were “The South Beach Diet,” “The Sonoma Diet” and “Ultra-Metabolism.” The lowest ranked diets were eDiets, the Zone Diet, the Ornish Diet and the Atkins diet, partly because of the poor record for long-term adherence for several of these plans.  Consumer Reports also gave a low rating to diet pills, “angel and devil foods,” and plans based on glycemic index, which scores foods according to how quickly they boost blood sugar levels because of the lack of scientific evidence supporting them.
    For more information, read the article on MSNBC at:
    Or read Consumer Reports’ diet tips at
    (Only subscribers to Consumer reports can view the entire rating report)
Published On: May 08, 2007