Medicare's Search for Effective Obesity Treatments: Diets Are Not the Answer

Traci Mann, A. Janet Tomiyama, Erika Westling, Ann Marie Lew, Barbra Samuels, Jason Chatman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

739 Scopus citations


The prevalence of obesity and its associated health problems have increased sharply in the past 2 decades. New revisions to Medicare policy will allow funding for obesity treatments of proven efficacy. The authors review studies of the long-term outcomes of calorie-restricting diets to assess whether dieting is an effective treatment for obesity. These studies show that one third to two thirds of dieters regain more weight than they lost on their diets, and these studies likely underestimate the extent to which dieting is counterproductive because of several methodological problems, all of which bias the studies toward showing successful weight loss maintenance. In addition, the studies do not provide consistent evidence that dieting results in significant health improvements, regardless of weight change. In sum, there is little support for the notion that diets lead to lasting weight loss or health benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-233
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Medicare
  • diets
  • interventions
  • obesity
  • weight loss maintenance


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