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29 October 2014
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Diet Trials: the results

Presenter Eamonn Holmes with dieter, MariaBBC ONE's Diet Trials has proved what dieters have long feared: if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you've got to exercise as well as watch what you eat.

Women will also be disappointed with the news that men have been found to be more successful at dieting.

The full results will be revealed in the final programme to be broadcast on Thursday 3 April.

This programme is the culmination of the compelling three week series which set out to find the most effective weight loss plan of them all.

In the UK's biggest scientific study of its kind, four of the best known weight loss plans, the Slim-Fast plan, Weight Watchers Pure Points Programme, Rosemary Conley's Eat Yourself Slim Diet and Fitness Plan and Dr Atkins' New Diet Revolution have been put to the test.

Led by the University of Surrey in collaboration with four other academic centres, the study has seen 300 people from across the country testing the diets for six months. The final results will tell us which diet works best for which type of person.

Some of the dieters have achieved impressive weight loss, some have lost very little and others have even gained weight. Overall, the dieters have shed a massive 211 stone with older people having the most sticking power – the highest drop out rate was amongst younger people.

The final results show that men do better than women: even though men made up only 30% of the study, 13 out of the top 20 weight losers were men (based on quantity of weight loss).

Helen Truby, Lead Scientist, explains: "This is because most of the men tended to have more weight to lose and are also metabolically better at burning fat."

Importantly, it has been found that increasing fitness and activity helped in both weight and fat loss. In dieters that got fitter, the weight lost contained a higher proportion of fat and a smaller amount of lean tissue, which should make putting weight back on later less likely.

Although all the diets recommend exercise, only Rosemary Conley includes it as part of the regime.

Controversial diet regime, the Dr Atkin's New Diet Revolution, has been found not to be harmful to those in the study. It also led to the most rapid initial weight loss, particularly for men.

Despite its high fat content, cholesterol levels were found not to increase, but scientists did have concerns that those on Atkins lacked some nutrients in their diet and had to intervene to ensure they took a dietary supplement.

The final Diet Trials programme with the full results will be shown on BBC ONE on Thursday 3 April at 7.00pm.

The full results will be available online at after transmission of the final programme.

Notes to Editors

Which diet would work best for you?


• Very restrictive in the food groups you can eat from
• Can have unlimited amounts of the permitted food groups
• A novel approach
• Don't have to calorie count
• Side effects found to be overrated by most who completed the study
• Expensive
• Possible nutritional problems - need to take supplements

Who does it suit?

• Men - like the idea of no quantity restrictions
• People who don't like restrictions or don't have time for group sessions
• Leads to rapid initial weight loss
• If you are trying to lower your cholesterol by losing weight this may not be the diet for you

Weight Watchers

• Plenty of food, you don't go hungry
• Nothing 'banned'
• Can eat same as family
• Classes in the study were reported to be of variable quality

Who does it suit?

• People who like going to groups – this seemed to particularly appeal to women
• Those with families as could fit it around them
• Those who don't want restricted foods
• Those not keen on exercise


• Simple and convenient
• Harder to follow at weekends
• Some people reported they missed solid food
• Good for short term, occasional weight loss
• Reassuring - you know you're getting the nutrients you need

Who does it suit?

• Both men and women
• Busy people who don't have time to prepare food
• People who don't like groups but want to go it alone
• Those looking for a simple solution

Rosemary Conley

• People found it enjoyable with plentiful foods
• Some people reported it seemed a natural way to eat
• Could be time consuming to check food labels for fat content
• Most enjoyed the exercise component
• Classes could be difficult to get to – people needed to have a class close to home

Who does it suit?

• People who like going to groups – this seemed to particularly appeal to women
• People who don't mind exercising in public
• People looking for a lifestyle change

This information is drawn from the results of the study and focus group studies with people who completed the study attending the University of Surrey test centre.

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