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Do Any Diet Programs Actually Work?

I've heard about all kinds of different diet programs (Atkins, South Beach, Cro-Magnon, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.) that claim to be "the best" at helping people lose weight. Is there any research to support their claims? Which one, if any, will actually help me lose weight?

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Diet programs can help you lose weight, especially in combination with physical activity, provided that it is a diet you can stick with. The basis of these programs is reduced caloric intake.
Programs such as the Atkins and South Beach diet programs focus on reduced carbohydrate intake, based on the notion that carbohydrates are most responsible for weight gain. While these diets can be effective, they are often difficult to maintain. 
Other programs such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nutrisystem promote portion control and a balanced diet that includes all of the food groups in addition to physical activity. These programs may be more effective than restrictive diets because they are easier to maintain long term. Weight Watchers also utilizes support groups, which may make their program more effective.
Discuss appropriate diet programs with your healthcare provider. Some health conditions do require special dietary restrictions. Your healthcare provider can help you choose a diet that is appropriate for you or can refer you to a dietician or nutritionist for more information.
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