WASHINGTON — The top spot in the annual diet rankings from U.S. News & World Report was not a surprise, but the rankings this year were different in that they included information on weight-loss drugs and social influencers.
The Mediterranean diet, for the seventh straight year, was rated the best overall diet. The diet was praised for its focus on overall quality, instead of a single nutrient or food group, and on daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, herbs and spices. The Mediterranean diet also held the top spots for best diet for diabetes, best heart-healthy diet, easiest diet to follow, best diet for bone and joint health, best family-friendly diet and best diet for healthy eating.
The DASH diet was rated the No. 2 diet overall and was praised for its nutritional completeness and ability to prevent or control diabetes and support heart health. The MIND diet, which combines the DASH and Mediterranean diets, came in at No. 3 overall.
The keto diet, although it was No. 25 for overall diet, was rated the best fast weight-loss diet. The flexitarian diet was named the best plant-based diet.
“Choosing a diet can be tough,” said Gretel Schueller, managing editor of health at U.S. News. “Each person has unique health considerations and goals, and there are many diets out there to choose from, and it’s hard to know which ones will actually work best for you.
“That’s why U.S. News does the legwork for its users, gathering input from nationally recognized medical and nutrition experts to determine which diets rise to the top for nutritional completeness, ease of following and promoting a healthy lifestyle for the long term.”
Forty-three panelists, including medical doctors, registered dietitians, nutritional epidemiologists and academic weight-loss researchers, evaluated the diets. To create the polls, U.S. News & World Report partnered with The Harris Poll, a global public opinion, analytics and market research consultancy.
Among the 30 ranked diets for 2024, four companies now offer weight-loss medications (GLP-1 receptor agonists): Mayo Clinic, Noom, Optavia and WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers).
“Morgan Stanley Research analysts estimate that 24 million people, or 7% of the US population, will be taking these drugs by 2035,” U.S. News & World Report said. “Yet, these are early days, and the true impact of potentially serious side effects (such as stomach paralysis and pancreatitis) remains to be seen, and, at the end of the day, exercising and finding and sticking with a sustainable and healthy eating plan still matter.”
The publication cast doubt on social influencers, citing a study by the University of Glasgow that found among social influencers, 90% made weight management claims that were inaccurate or misleading. University of Vermont researchers in a 2022 study analyzed 1,000 TikTok videos with fitness or food-related hashtags, finding most of the advice advocated unhealthy food relationships.