The skinny on popular diets

Bestselling diet plans don't necessarily work any better than do-it-yourself programs.

If losing weight was one of your New Year's resolutions and you have already quit your diet, don't despair. Many off-the-shelf diets come with the seeds of failure — restriction, deprivation, hunger, and cravings — already planted.

Finding an effective eating strategy is serious business if you are considerably overweight and are interested in improving your long-term health. Halting any further weight gain and gradually shedding pounds can have beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, joint pain, and the energy and ability to do everyday activities.

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