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Fad Diets

Katie Bohannon, Britnie Delozier,

Lindsey French, Andrea Meiring,
Jennifer Tallent
How much $ does the United
States spend on weight loss
products per year?

30 Billion

American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc.2006;106:602

Obesity Trends* Among U.S. Adults
BRFSS, 1990, 1999, 2008
(*BMI  30, or about 30 lbs. overweight for 5’4” person)

1990 1999


No Data < 10 % 10 %– 14 % 15 %– 19 %
20 %– 24 % 25 %– 29 % ≥ 30 %
Source: CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
 “With rising rates of obesity, new
and questionable diets appearing
on the market almost everyday,
and the current trend toward
marketing huge portions, is it
possible to control one’s weight
with a nutritionally sound,
emotionally healthy, common-
sense-based approach?”

 Hannah Fiske. Today’s Dietitian. 2003;45

Today people are more
susceptible to false claims of
weight loss companies
 We are more health conscious and thus more susceptible
to misinformation

People are looking for fast, simple

and quick ways to lose weight
 “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”
 “Eat as much as you want and still lose
 “Try the thigh buster and lose inches fast!”

 American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;602

Fad Diet Misinformation
Misinformation leads people to be
confused about food
People may lose weight with these
diets but it is only short term and
not because of what the companies
Low in energy
Do not provide a good balance
May be nutrient deficient
Scientific research reports

 American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;601

 “unreasonable or exaggerated beliefs
that eating (or not eating) specific
foods, nutrient supplements or
combination of certain foods may cure
disease, convey special benefits or
offer quick weight loss.”

The Source of Information
47% Magazines
34% Television
29% Books
28% Newspaper

Nutrition information and physicians
21% Internet
19% Product labels
18% Friends and family
13% Dietetic professionals

 American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;603

Myth or Fact

 Carbohydrates cause
weight gain

C a lo rie s ca u se w e ig h t g a in
If yo u co n su m e m o re ca lo rie s th a n yo u
exp e n d yo u w illb e g in to g a in w e ig h t

American Dietetic Association at 2009

Myth or Fact

 Occasionally following a
fad diet is a safe way to
quickly lose weight

M a n y cre a to rs o f th e se fa d d ie ts d o n o t
h a ve scie n tific b a ckg ro u n d

S o m e fa d d ie ts ca n b e h a rm fu lto th o se w ith
ce rta in h e a lth p ro b le m s

You will lose weight quickly but it is most

likely going to come back within months
American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006; 601
Myth or Fact

 Snacking does not ruin a

healthful diet
Healthy snacks and small frequent meals
are a good way to control weight and food
Pay attention to the foods you choose, the
size of your portions, how frequently you
snack, and the total amount of calories
you consume

Myth or Fact

There are certain foods

that can make or break a
healthful diet
The most important thing to
watch is your overall pattern of
A wide variety is best if
consumed in moderation
Appropriate proportions
Regular physical activity

 Starkey J, Dombrowski J, Ryan T.

Myth or Fact

 In order to write a diet or

food related book you
must have appropriate
- Most of the food and diet books
are written by
- Celebrities
- Fitness experts
- psychologists
Myth or Fact

Certain foods, like

grapefruit, celery, or
cabbage soup, can burn
fat and make you lose

There are no foods that can burn fat
- Physical activity is needed to burn
- Eating a variety in moderation is the
key to losing weight

 Starkey J, Dombrowski J, Ryan T. 2007

Myth or Fact

 Natural or herbal weight-loss

products are safe and

Just because it says “natural” or

“herbal” does not prove it to be
Many products are not
scientifically tested or proven to
work before they hit the shelves

 National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease

at 2009
Myth or Fact

 Eating after 8pm does not

mean you will gain weight
- The time of day is not what
matters most
- Watch WHAT you eat
- Watch HOW much you eat

- If you consume extra calories they

will be stored as fat

 Starkey J, Dombrowski J, Ryan T. 2007

Fad Diet Myths
 Why do people buy into these
- All people have to eat
- We live in a society focused on being thin
- Celebrity role models
- People may have a false sense of security
about their health

 American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;603

As Dietitians
Nutrition professionals need to be
aware of the misinformation that is
out there
Misinterpreted research
Work with the media to communicate
science based nutrition information to
Stay on top of current research
Be aware of a decrease in a person’s
The public’s view of health

 American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;604


 Some familiar fads…

 All of these popular high-protein/low-carbohydrate
diet books have reached The New York Times
bestseller status.
What makes these diets so appealing?
uPromises of rapid weight loss
uEasy to follow plans
uDiets include many palatable foods
uPhysical activity not required
Rapid weight-loss:
 Many low-CHO diets report greater, and more
rapid weight-loss when compared to other higher
CHO diets.
 The reality:
 This is short term (<6 months). After 12
months, this weight-loss dissipates, and total
weight-loss is no more than traditional higher
Po ssib le m eCHO
ch a ndiets.
ism s: Nordmann AJ et al. (2006) Arch Intern Med 166:
D iu re285–29.
M o b ilza tio n o f g lyco g e n sto re s

C ircu la tin g ke to n e b o d ie s
S a tia tin g e ffe cts o f p ro te in
U se o f p ro te in m o re e n e rg e tica lly co stly
N o t e n o u g h e vid e n ce

Atkins Diet
T h e Pre m ise :
S e ve re re strictio n o f d ie ta ry
ca rb o h yd ra te (< 2 0 % o f d a ily ca lo ric
in ta ke ), w ith its re su ltin g ke to sis,
p ro m o te s lip id oxid a tio n , sa tie ty , a n d
in cre a se d e n e rg y exp e n d itu re , fa cto rs
th a t sh o u ld p ro m o te n e g a tive e n e rg y
b a la n ce a n d w e ig h t lo ss

C a rb o h yd ra te in ta ke cre a te s:
H ig h b lo o d su g a r
In su lin re sista n ce
In cre a se d b o d y fa t
A tkin s R , D r. A tkin s’ N e w D ie t R e vo lu tio n .
Atkins Diet
 The good:
 Initial rapid weight loss can be motivating.
 The bad:
Long-term CVD risks need to be better
Nutrient deficiencies

 Effects of prolonged ketosis

The South Beach Diet

 A m o re h e a lth y ve rsio n o f th e A tkin s
D ie t th a t’ s b a cke d b y so lid e vid e n ce
o n fa ts a n d h e a rt d ise a se

T h e g o o d : D o e sn ’ t le a ve o u t a n y fo o d
g ro u p s

T h e b a d : T h e first p h a se is m u ch like
th e A tkin s d ie t, ve ry re strictive o n

R e stricts so m e fru its a n d ve g e ta b le s

su ch a s ca rro ts.
 Atkins vs. South Beach

 A study done on the effects of three popular diets

on lipids, endothelial function, and C-reactive
protein during weight maintenance found that
the Atkins diet was associated with higher total
cholesterol and LDL cholesterol compared to the
South Beach diet, which lowered overall
cholesterol and LDL cholesterol during the
maintenance period. Moreover, saturated fat
intake correlated inversely with endothelial
function as assessed by brachial artery
reactivity testing.

M. Miller et al, J Am Diet Assoc 109 (2009), pp. 713–717.


Malik et al. Cardiovascular Medicine. 2007.

What are Meal Replacements?
Beverages, prepackaged or frozen entrees,
and meal or snack bars that are designed
to take the place of one or two meals

Contain a known energy and macronutrient

Objective is to attain a 500 to 1,000 kcal/day
energy deficit

The Slimfast diet plan is an example

Meal Replacements

Good for portion and calorie control

In some cases can improve a person’s
nutritional status

How effective are meal
 Several studies have shown a greater weight
loss efficacy with structured meal replacement
plans than compared to reduced calorie diet

 In a randomized controlled trial by Rothacker in
2001 a meal replacement diet was compared
to a low-fat diet

 After one year, the meal replacement group
maintained their initial weight loss, while the
other group regained most of the initial weight
loss back

 J Am Diet Assoc 2001; 101(3): 345-347
Meal Replacements
May not be a long-term solution

Encourages “eating on the run”

Concerns of nutritional inadequacies

May still feel hungry or may not be satisfying

Does not teach good eating habits or
What ADA says about meal
Advise on how to optimize the overall
nutrient content

Must be careful selection of the conventional
foods that make up the non-meal
replacement portion of the diet plan
Detox Diets
What is a Detox Diet
Popular Detox Diets
oThe Master Cleanse, also known
as “The Lemonade Diet”
oThe Juice Diet
oThe Water Fast


Pro’s of Detox Diets
Beneficial in treating the side
effects of chronic diseases
Stepwise detox program used to
eliminate bad eating habits, and
reduce smoking and drinking
Detoxing used as a “motivational
Con’s of Detoxing

Lack of scientific research
supporting detox diets
Nutrient deficiencies and electrolyte
Detoxing is extremely dangerous
for certain groups of people
Negative physical effects

How Dietitians Feel About
Stress the importance of being under the
supervision of a dietitian while detoxing
Feel that more research needs to be
done: which toxins are being removed
from the body?
Believe in using detox diets to motivate
people to lose weight and live healthier
Important for patients to remember that
it is what they eat after the cleanse is

“The best diet is one you can stick too”
- Michael Dansinger
- Director of Diabetes, New
England Medical Center,

 ADA believes weight management to improve

overall health requires a lifelong commitment
to healthy lifestyle behaviors emphasizing
sustainable and enjoyable eating practices
and daily physical activity.

 American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc.
FAD Diets
Loss of Nutrients
No emphasis on physical

Healthy Weight Loss and
More than just a number on a scale!!
Can be complex
 Nutritional intake
 Physical Activity
 Psychological Status
 Social and Cognitive Function
 Emotional factors
 Food access
 Environment and Environmental triggers
 Functional capacity for food preperation

Nutrition Care Process
Assessment, Diagnosis, Intervention, Monitoring and Evaluation

 Baseline weight and health indexes which

will guide weight management goals
 Health risks involved before starting exercise
 In addition to medical assessment a
psychiatric evaluation for
 * Post-tramatic stress disorder
 * Depression
 * Binge eating disorder
 * Bulemia
 Studies show increased frequency in people with
excessive eating problems
 May require medicine and/or behavioral therapy

 Team
 Realistic goals and expectation
 Realistic expectations about time to achieve
 Emphasize health rather than cosmetic goals
 Portion control
Portion distortion
Eat more low energy dense foods
 Know what’s in the foods your eating
 Don’t skip breakfast
 Triggers
 Physical Activity
 30 -60 minutes moderate-vigerous activity most days of the week
Food Guide Pyramids
Variety, Proportionality, and Moderation
 RD’s rely on this everyday
 Low fat
Fat is the most energy dense macronutrient but
is known to have a weak effect on both
satisfaction and making you feel full
 Instead of all fats being bad…eat healthy fats.
 Instead of focusing only on complex carbs…limit
sugar and emphasize benefits of whole grains.
 2005 first to emphasize physical activity.
Interactive website with educational modules

Follow up
Modify plans to…
 Prevent weight gain
 Long term weight management

 “Slow and steady wins the race!”

ADA National Nutrition Month 07’

American Dietetics Association:

“ Yo u ca n lo se w e ig h t o n virtu a lly a n y d ie t, if yo u e a t le ss, yo u

w illlo se w e ig h t. T h e q u e stio n is, ca n yo u m a in ta in a h e a lth y
life style o ve r th e lo n g te rm – yo u r life ? T h e re a lke y to
re a ch in g lo n g -te rm g o a ls is to fo cu s o n yo u r o ve ra llh e a lth .”
-Roberta Anding , registered dietitianand ADA
sp o ke sp e rso n
Key messages to enjoy a
100% Fad Free lifestyle:
Develop an eating plan for lifelong
Choose foods sensibly by looking
at the big picture.
Find your balance between food
and physical activity
Learn how to spot a food fad.
Food and nutrition misinformation
can have harmful effects on your
health and well-being.
American Dietetics Association:

 References
1. American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic
Association: Food and nutrition misinformation. J Am Diet
2. American Dietetic Association. Nutrition: Fact vs. Fiction. 2009.
Available at:
Accessed September 26, 2009.
3. Starkey J, Dombrowski J, Ryan T. Quick Fixes Aren’t the Answer for
Healthful Weight Control: Learn to Spot Fads and Steer Clear –
Then Seek Proven, Long-Term Solutions. 2007. Available at:
, 2009.
4. American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic
Association: Weight management. J Am Diet Assoc.
5. American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic
Association: Weight management. J Am Diet Assoc.
6. Atkins R 1992 Dr. Atkins’ new diet revolution. New York: Avon Books.
7. Levine M.J., Jones J.M., Lineback D.R.Low-Carbohydrate Diets:
Assessing the Science and Knowledge Gaps, Summary of an ILSI
North America Workshop (2006) Journal of the American Dietetic
Association, 106 (12), pp. 2086-2094
1. M. Miller, V. Beach, J.D. Sorkin, C. Mangano, C. Dobmeier, D.
Novacic, J. Rhyne and R.A. Vogel, Comparative effects of three
popular diets on lipids, endothelial function, and C-reactive
protein during weight maintenance, J Am Diet Assoc 109
(2009), pp. 713–717.
2. Jackson, D. The Skinny on Meal Replacements for Weight
Management. Today’s Dietitian. July 2004;23-24
3. Sherer, E. Examining the most popular weight loss diets: How
effective are they? JAAPA. November 2008;31-34.
4. Spring Cleansing: Assessing the Risks and Benefits of DetoxDiets.
Today’s Dietitian. 2008; 34-38
5. PiccoM. Nutrition and Healthy Eating: Do detox diets offer any
health benefits? 2008:1. Available at
Accessed September 29, 2009.