Five fat-fighting fads promise slimmer 2009

By Aaron Parkman

Staff Writer

Americans are bombarded with advertisements for the latest weight loss miracle from every angle. No matter what kind of plan, pill or purchase they are, what most of these things have in common is that they do not work. Of course, if anyone’s New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, he or she has probably already explored some of the options, which they are hoping will make the process easier.

Below is a list of weight loss regimens that are sure to get some attention this year.

First on our list of fad diets this year is the South Beach diet. Although it has been around since the 1980’s, it is still considered a fad diet because of its reputation for teaching imbalanced eating habits.

Specifically, South Beach is known for its “low carb” regimen, in which dieters will consume an irregularly large amount of protein and an irregularly small amount of carbs. Not to be confused with Atkins, the South Beach diet was developed by Arthur Agatston, who attempts to be more “balanced” than Atkins by putting greater emphasis on simply choosing “good carbs” versus “bad carbs.”

The second crave on the list will be familiar to some if they watch the Oprah show often. Alli, the first FDA approved diet pill, has been featured on Oprah, and it is thought to be a weight loss savior by some.

Based on the concept of fat-blocking, Alli was designed to be used in conjunction with regular diet and exercise; in other words: it will help dieters lose the weight, but it won’t do all the work for them. Some people have had great success using Alli.

The only problem with it is that it acts somewhat as a laxative, especially when you first start taking it. The makers of Alli say that is normal, and the effects can be decreased by lowering dieters’ fat consumption.

Third on our list is the infamous Hollywood Diet, whose ingenious name has catapulted it into popularity. Aside from the name, there is very little to be impressed with when it comes to this diet. In terms of ingredients, it is little more than fruit juice.

In terms of a program, dieters are instructed to drink a serving four times per day, and they are not allowed to have anything else besides water. Intended to provide quick weight loss, it is no wonder that this fad diet sheds the pounds. According to the bottle, dieters will only be consuming 400 calories per day.

Fourth is Weight Watchers, which actually is not a fad diet, but it still deserves mention. Weight Watchers has been around since 1963 and is still very popular among middle-class Americans. The diet is based on a point system, in which every food is assigned a certain number of points. Using this system, dieters monitor the amount of food they consume each day and write it down in their Weight Watchers booklet. Integral to the system are the small groups, which meet regularly and act as support groups for weight loss. These groups are what have made Weight Watchers famous, and their existence is what draws some dieters to Weight Watchers, while pushing others away.

Last on our list is the Zone Diet. Similar to Weight Watchers, it is an attempt by its inventor to offer people a way to lose weight by simply eating correctly, long-term.

The methodology behind this diet is that there is a certain “zone” in which people’s bodies are hormonally balanced, specifically when there is a 30 to 40 ratio of protein to carbohydrates.

In the Zone Diet, dieters eat a mixture of carbohydrates, protein, and fat, in a ratio of 40:30:30. The effectiveness of this diet is questioned by many, and it can legitimately be called a fad diet because of its reputation for being “low-carb.” However, many dieters like the Zone Diet, because it does not generally come with the same side effects as other diets, such as hunger and fatigue.

Whether or not everyone has a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, healthy eating is a struggle for every college student. When the choice is between what is served in the dining halls and what most students eat in their rooms, healthy eating seems almost infeasible.

What students must keep in mind is that the food that they eat is what their bodies are running on, and it is ultimately what is fueling their brains.

Next time the parents call, use it as an opportunity to remind them of this fact, and who knows, someone’s weekly allowance may go up. Just don’t count on it.