Any diet will do, say researchers, if you stick to it

Bowl of salad

Related Stories

All diets - from Atkins to Weight Watchers - have similar results and people should simply pick the one they find easiest, say researchers.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analysed data from 48 separate trials.

The Canadian team concluded that sticking to a diet was more important than the diet itself.

Obesity experts said all diets cut calories to a similar level, which may explain the results.

Diets go in and out of fashion on a regular basis, with a current debate around the relative benefits of low carb and low fat diets.

All the same

Scientists at McMaster University in Ontario and the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto analysed data from 7,286 overweight dieters.

The range of diets covered included, Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Biggest Loser, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Volumetrics, Weight Watchers, Ornish and Rosemary Conley.

It showed that after 12 months, people on low carbohydrate and low fat diets both lost an average of 7.3kg (16lb). Those on low carb meal plans had lost slightly more at the six-month marker.

The report said: "The differences [between diets] were small and unlikely to be important to those seeking weight loss."

It concluded: "Our findings should be reassuring to clinicians and the public that there is no need for a one-size-fits-­all approach to dieting because many different diets appear to offer considerable weight loss benefits.

"Our findings suggest that patients may choose, among those associated with the largest weight loss, the diet that gives them the least challenges with adherence."

Yummy steak The Atkins diet has a focus on protein

However, the study did not look at wider health issues, such as levels of cholesterol, which may vary according to diet.

Prof Susan Jebb, from the University of Oxford and a government advisor on obesity, said diets were more similar than they appeared, advocating cutting calories to 1,500 a day, sticking to strict meal times and avoiding biscuits, cakes and chocolate.

"The issue is about adherence and it's how closely and how long can you keep sticking to the plan over time that matters.

"That probably means finding the right diet for you, rather than one being so particularly better than the others."

She said people should try to match diets to their lives.

Vegetarians would struggle more with a high protein, low carb diet, while people living on their own may find liquid (instead of meals) diets easier than those who would still have to cook for a family.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Health stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.