Developing and Piloting a Novel Ranking System to Assess Popular Dietary Patterns and Healthy Eating Principles

Ella L. Bracci, Rachel Milte, Jennifer B. Keogh, Karen J. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


A multitude of weight loss diets exist. However, no one diet has been proven to be superior, despite their claims. Resultingly, this creates confusion amongst consumers and conflicting nutrition messages. The aim of the ranking system was to evaluate a range of dietary pattern’s nutrition profile and financial costs, as well as their potential long-term sustainability and associated adverse effects. Nutrition profile is typically the focal point of weight loss diets with less attention focused towards other factors that may affect their suitability. Five popular diets (Keto, Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, Optifast, and 8 Weeks to Wow) and two energy restricted healthy eating principles (Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the Mediterranean Diet) were compared for diet quality, cost, adverse effects, and support for behaviour change. In general, healthy eating principles scored more favourably compared to popular weight loss diets in all categories. Lower carbohydrate diets tended to score lower for diet quality due to restricting multiple food groups, had more associated adverse effects and did not encourage behaviour change compared to the other weight loss diets. Optifast was the only weight loss diet to receive a negative score for cost. There should be considerations when undertaking a change to dietary patterns beyond nutrition profile. Diets indeed vary in terms of diet quality, and in addition can be costly, incur adverse effects, and disregard behaviour change which is important for sustainable weight loss and maintenance. This ranking system could create a reference point for future comparisons of diets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3414
Number of pages12
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
  • behaviour change
  • diet analyses
  • nutrition profile
  • weight loss diets


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