Attention Diet-Crazed Americans: US News & World Report’s Top-Ranked Diet Is Not a Diet

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Jan. 8 2014 11:43 AM

Attention Diet-Crazed Americans: US News & World Report’s Top-Ranked Diet Is Not a Diet

Nice try, but where are the weight-loss supplements?

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

The first couple weeks of January have informally become a national holiday, when Americans temporarily reckon with our expanding waistlines, vow to shrink them, and embrace whatever the latest trend diet is before drifting away long before Valentine's Day, unable to keep up with the strict demands of only eating while standing on your head or whatever the latest surefire way to lose 30 pounds is this time around. Trying to capitalize on the season, US News & World Report decided to rank 32 popular diets to find the best one to kick off your ritual of penance and defeat.

But oh, they are tricksy ones at America's premier source for making you feel like you went to a good college. If you actually read the blurbs on the top-rated diets instead of just skipping ahead to see the crap rating they give the Paleo diet, you'll start to notice a trend: The best-ranked diets sound suspiciously like something your doctor would tell you to embrace, not as a diet, but as general rules for eating to prevent heart disease and diabetes. Indeed, some of the best diets, such as the DASH diet, the TLC diet, or the Mayo Clinic diet weren't developed for weight loss at all. Two were created to help heart patients get healthier, and the Mayo Clinic diet is just general good sense for eating. It seems that US News is trying to trick its readers into giving up fad diets and instead, like a bunch of boring, untrendy, healthy people, just eat right.


Luckily, Americans will not be fooled. We have an endless appetite for trend diets that promise rapid weight loss through unsustainable and often expensive methods. We will buy up any crap supplement, food additive, or even skin cream that promises that we can lose weight rapidly. This is why, as the New York Times reports Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission has charged four more companies with deceptive advertising of useless weight loss products—and why 13 percent of fraud claims to the FTC involve weight-loss products, "more than twice the number in any other category."

Here at Slate, we're not immune to the siren call of the trend diet, or unaware of the amount of traffic you get from covering the latest weight-loss fad, and pieces testing out diets, even the skeptical ones, do have the effect of elevating them to things that people should try. (Though we take great pleasure in debunking diets, too.) Diets provide such a great narrative! Put on a bunch of weight, go on a trend diet that (if you're lucky) causes you to lose a bunch of weight, inevitably put all that weight back on when your diet ends, and start the process all over again. Our culture of eating is a sin and redemption cycle, which is a lot more dramatic than simply ingesting a bunch of vegetables with some lean proteins for the rest of your life. We will never give up hope that this time, the fancy new diet is going to be the one. Sensible eating doesn't stand a chance. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.