Diet Wars: Which Plan Is Best?

What fuels such fierce loyalty among different diet plans?

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Whether you count calories, fat grams, carbs, or points, your choice of weight loss programs is bound to spark debate at the dinner table and the water cooler.

With more than two-thirds of all American adults currently tipping the scales and carrying around a bit more weight than they should, it's no surprise that the popularity of commercial diet plans and weight- loss programs has soared in recent years. In fact, the government estimates that Americans spend an average of more than $30 billion each year on weight-loss products and services.

When there's that much money (and fat) at stake, weight-loss programs work hard to build customer loyalty and often prey on the weaknesses of disillusioned dieters searching for the next big thing that will help them finally win the battle of the bulge.

But what inspires the religious-like fervor found among avid followers of commercial diet plans, like Atkins, The South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, and others? Is it possible for people with opposing diet strategies to coexist peacefully in the same household?

Dieting Takes Commitment

Experts say most people who diet have a long history of dieting failure because less than 5% of dieters are successful at keeping the weight off for five years or more. So for many people, choosing a new weight-loss program offers a way to conquer their fear of failure and triggers powerful emotions.