There are almost 40,000 diet and weight-loss related books for sale on Amazon. But there were three, in particular, that caught the attention of Australian dietitians last year for all the wrong reasons.
In a newly released survey by the Dietitians Association of Australia, more than 230 members agreed the three worst diets of last year were the Lemon Detox Diet, followed by the Acid and Alkaline Diet and Six Weeks to OMG.
From a list of nine popular diets, nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of the dietitians agreed the Lemon Detox Diet was the worst. This is the second year in a row the diet received top dishonour.
The diets are of particular concern to the dietitians whose association has canvassed 200 young women and found 42 per cent were looking to lose weight in the new year.
About 35 per cent of women between 18 and 24 years are either overweight or obese. Australians are expected to spend more than $800 million in 2012-13 on weight-loss services, low-calorie foods and shakes, diet cookbooks, weight loss guides and dietary supplements.
Speaking on behalf of the association, Melanie McGrice said: ''Like many things in life, good health takes perseverance and commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
''Extreme diet measures are unnecessary and counterproductive.''
THE LEMON DETOX DIET
The Lemon Detox is a 10-day ''holistic naturopathic journey to better health'' the book's author, Dr K.A Beyer, says. In other words, it's 10 days of nothing but laxative tea, salt water ''flushes'' and a concoction of lemon, water, maple or ''natural tree'' syrup and cayenne pepper to help the body ''cleanse'' itself.
What the dietitians say: Apart from general concern about detoxes in general and cutting core nutrients, Ms McGrice points out that 24 hours without protein and calcium can do damage to muscle tissue and bones.
THE ACID AND
A diet that has been growing in popularity over the past few years, it operates on the principle that too much acid in the body breeds disease. Alkaline foods include green, leafy vegetables, bananas and oatmeal while acidic foods include some other fruits and vegetables along with dairy, most meats, caffeine and alcohol.
What the dietitians say: While some small studies have found that restricting dietary acid can be helpful for health, Ms McGrice says such diets simply add to confusion about food. ''Some of the foods they're getting you to cut out are really healthy,'' she says. ''It's sending the wrong message.''
SIX WEEKS TO OMG
The controversial author Venice A. Fulton claims to have the key to weight loss. His ''solutions'' involve black coffee for breakfast because it ''urges fat cells to spill their contents into the bloodstream, where working muscles can then make use of it''; cold showers to kick start fat-burning; and avoiding fruit because of fructose. But, the claim he copped the most criticism for was that broccoli carbs are no better than soda carbs because bodies do not treat carbohydrates differently.
What the dietitians say:
It would take about ''3 kilograms of broccoli to get the same carbs as a can of soda'', the dietitian Tara Di Versi says. The Six Weeks to OMG diet was at the top of her worst list.