Health

Web weight loss

Get the skinny on four online weight-loss programs

When 55-year-old Judy Bruder left her Ontario home to meet girlfriends in B.C., she wasn’t going to a reunion. In fact, she was meeting this group for the first time. In the flesh, anyway.

Bruder is a member of ediets.com and had befriended these women through the diet program’s web forum. “My husband said, ‘These girls have done so much for you. Why don’t you meet them?'” And so Bruder, who has lost 45 pounds, decided to take a trip.

Sound far-fetched? Not to Ramona Josephson, a Vancouver-based registered dietitian. “The online diet gives you a community of support,” she says, “and people in support groups are much more successful.” In fact, a 2001 Brown University study found that those who had online support lost three times more weight than those who only had access to online info.

But which program is right for you? We’ve asked Josephson as well as Susan Finkelstein, a registered dietitian for York Region Health Services in Ontario, for the skinny on some popular online diets.

The diet How it works the cost our experts say…
Truestarhealth.com Aimed at anyone seeking optimal health, this Canadian program focuses on five pillars: nutrition, sleep, vitamins, attitude and exercise. Fill out profiles and get a customized program for each area. sign-up fee plus $19.95 US/month Finkelstein praises the site’s emphasis on sleep, nutrition and exercise, but would prefer to see more trained professionals. Neither dietitian likes the push to buy the site’s vitamins.
Weightwatchers.ca No foods are forbidden here, as long as you stay within your assigned daily points allotment. Points are calculated based on fat, fibre and calorie content. You have the option of attending weekly meetings in your area, at an extra cost. sign-up fee plus $78/month for online access and weekly meetings; $22/ month for online access only This program scores an A from Josephson, who says it emphasizes a community environment and is easy to navigate. She especially likes the online message boards.
Ediets.com Ediets has partnered with some popular programs (Atkins, The Zone, Slim Fast), but it also offers diets that target health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. Choose a program, fill out a profile and get your customized plan. $20 US/ month Finkelstein doesn’t like this site’s endorsement of certain diets, but she is pleased that it is backed by registered dietitians. Josephson loves that members can put their nutrition questions to reputable experts.
Fitday.com Enter the foods you eat each day and get a calorie breakdown of what you’re consuming. Also tracks exercise and weight loss, and provides an analysis of where your calories are coming from. free Josephson admires the simplicity of this site. She is also pleased that there isn’t too much emphasis on buying information—most of it is free.