Weight Loss Diet Schemes Don’t Work! Especially These


So we’re getting it a little backwards, announcing the winners of the Slim Chance Awards 2014 last Friday before we announce the nominees today. Hey, you gotta find your fun somewhere and with a subject like this, it’s pretty hard sometimes. Dieting is a serious business to the tune of $65 billion a year with untold damage to people’s health and well-being.

Slim Chance Awards Nominees

In this 26th year of the Slim Chance Awards, we changed the format a bit to call out approaches that our panel of experts identified as the most problematic in a world of problematic weight loss diets and schemes.

People from as far away as Australia sent nominations this year. That’s exciting because it tells us we’re on to something.

“What’s exciting about these nominations from the public is that they get people thinking critically about how to spot a diet that just isn’t going to deliver what it promises” says panel member Dr. Susan Albers, mindful eating expert.”

2014 Top Diet Fads and Schemes

So without further ado — drum roll please — the nominees were….

Meal Replacement & Food Supplement Plans

These plans encourage using packaged foods, shakes or supplements, often instead of eating whole foods, which nutritionists agree offer the best benefits for health and healthy weights.


One of the leading meal replacement plans offering everything from shakes to protein bars to packaged meals. We question the merit of its claim that it’s doctor-approved as most physicians know little about nutrition or how to help patients who struggle with eating and weight.

Jenny Craig

Jenny offers packaged foods based on the Volumetrics® approach, which is about eating larger portions of low calorie foods to fill you up. If that sounds like “been there, done that,” you’re right. See Weight Watchers below.


Weight loss shakes, bars and supplements, including those to help you cleanse and burn fat.  See Detox Plans.

Cambridge Diet

Soups, shakes, bars….you get the picture.

Le-Vel Thrive  

Supplements and patches for weight management as well as cognitive performance and a host of other issues. We know of no science that supports its effectiveness nor does the website offer any.

Typical Diet Plans

These plans restrict calories or types of foods for the purpose of weight loss. We find that restriction generally doesn’t work for people who chronically struggle with eating and weight. Note: Many of them claim not to be a diet, but when you restrict eating for the purposes of weight loss, it’s a diet.

Weight Watchers

You’d have to live under a rock if you haven’t heard about – and maybe even tried — this point- and calorie-counting approach. It’s been around and one of the top approaches for almost as long as people have been dieting. Remember the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? We’d say this qualifies.

Detox Plans

Quite the rage last year, detox plans have now made the list of “that’s so 2014.” What many people don’t realize is that the body is a very efficient detoxing machine but it needs the nutrients found in a balanced diet to do it. That takes us back to eating well.

The 80/20 Diet Rule

This diet allows but limits goodies so you don’t overeat them. The thing is, when you eat mindfully, listening to your body’s cues, your body will guide you in eating well without overeating even rich foods. Limiting such foods according to a rule often leads to wanting them even more than you normally would, and ultimately overeating them.

Whole 30

This plan cuts out foods like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes for a month (30 days), in order to find out of these foods are having a negative impact on your health and weight. While it appears to be based on a valid elimination diet approach to discovering food sensitivities, this diet might be triggering for anyone who has a history of struggles with eating and weight. We highly recommend working with a qualified healthcare professional if you believe you have food sensitivities that are creating problems for you.

Paleo Diet

According to several reports, this approach also ranks as something of the past (no pun intended), saying that dieters are moving on from it, in the search for something that really works. If that’s you, check out mindful eating!

Outrageous Weight Loss Plans

We list plans and products here that have far-reaching negative consequences for innocent people. Not that most diets don’t. But in this year’s case, those people are children.

BMI Report Cards

This won 2015’s Most Outrageous Slim Chance Award. “There is no good evidence that BMI report cards help children become healthier or happier,” says Katja Rowell, MD, childhood feeding specialist. “And there is growing concern that these reports, most often delivered with inappropriate advice to restrict intake, do more harm than good.”

“Simple” “Solutions”

These plans and products offer approaches that often appeal to the busy and frustrated among us. We ask, “Where’s the science that they work?” Because if they don’t, they just keep frustrating us and often complicate struggles with eating and weight.

5-Bite Diet

Skip breakfast and eat only five bites of food at lunch and five bites at dinner. “Does that include a Snickers bar?” asks Rebecca Scritchfield, RD.  Promoted on the Dr. Oz Show.

Werewolf Diet
Also known as the Moon Diet or the Lunar Diet. Users fast during lunar phases.  Madonna does it, according to Wikipedia. We all know celebrities are experts on diet and health, right? *sarcasm*, in case you didn’t recognize that.

Diet Sunglasses

According to the manufacturer, the blue lenses calm the brain’s appetite center.  You know what science tells us does that very effectively? Good self care that includes eating well.

Freelee and 50 Bananas a Day 

The name says it all, which Freelee says is the reason for her washboard abs. Reports are that Freelee has suffered from an eating disorder in the past. This plan could trigger someone at risk for eating disorders, or even someone who has been on and off countless diets, according to experts.

Anything from Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz’s recommendations won 2015’s Worst Gimmick Slim Chance Award. FYI, he’s won Slim Chance Awards in the past, too.

Crazy Cola Diet

Drink three cans of cola a day, while “blocking your nose”. You can also eat a regular dinner. “It works,” says the website.


HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone produced by the human placenta and has been falsely promoted as a weight loss aid for decades, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Kudos to the FTC, too, because it cracked down on HCG plans in 2014, barring makers from making a number of specific weight loss claims and requiring substantiation of any future weight loss claims associated with HCG.

Bikini Diet

This one turns a bikini into a plate model: One bra cup specifies portion size for protein foods, the other for starchy foods, and the bottom guides you on how much to eat of fruits and vegetables. “A fun and simple way to control portions, shed a few pounds,” according to the website.  We say, “Really?”

The Pineapple Diet , The Papaya Diet, The Apple Diet

While listed together here, they’re all actually different diets. Sort of. The theory is the same – eat this “magic cure” and weigh less.

So there you have it, folks. The 2015 Slim Chance Award nominees. To close, I’ll just share this from panel member Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN:

“Don’t blame people for trying these gimmicks and approaches. Weight is a deep cultural issue in society. There once was a time when fatness was a sign of wealth and elevated social status. Now, fat people are stigmatized. Fat is unacceptable. We’re told it’s harmful to individual health and the health of our society. One of the best ways we can change society is to refuse to accept that there is one thin ideal that we should achieve. Accept that size diversity is real. The best thing you can do in 2015 is to commit to your health and happiness by setting self-care goals, instead of weight goals.”

For a great review of weight science that clearly shows diets don’t work, check out this important article by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, two leaders in the movement away from a weight to a health focus.

It’s not too early to start submitting your nominations for 2016. Just email us at info@fitwoman.com and put Slim Chance Awards nomination in the subject line.

Learn more about Healthy Weight Week and the Slim Chance Awards

One response to “Weight Loss Diet Schemes Don’t Work! Especially These”

  1. Dwain Lokken says:

    Great share by Mr Marsha Hundnall. The way you described the dieting plans and simple dieting solutions were excellent. I was searching from when for these diet solutions for my weight loss.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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