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Sao Paulo Med J. 2017 Jul-Aug;135(4):339-346. doi: 10.1590/1516-3180.2016.0301280217. Epub 2017 Jul 31.

Quality of diet plans for weight loss featured in women's magazines. A cross-sectional descriptive study.

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BSc. Nutritionist and Master's Student in the Postgraduate Program on Evidence-Based Health, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Unifesp), São Paulo (SP), Brazil.
MD, PhD. Associate Professor, Discipline of Emergency Medicine and Evidence-Based Health, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (Unifesp), São Paulo (SP), Brazil.



Brazil has the fifth largest population of obese individuals in the world. Women's magazines publish a large number of diet plans, and therefore the objective of this study was to assess the quality of these plans.


Cross-sectional descriptive study.


We included the Brazilian women's magazines of highest circulation published between January and June 2014 that advertised diets for weight loss on their covers. We extracted the quantities of macro and micronutrients from each of these diet plans and compared these quantities with the World Health Organization nutritional guidelines for adult women. We also checked the total energy quantities of these plans, and any recommendations about water intake and physical activity.


We identified 136 potentially eligible magazine issues; 41 were excluded and 95 issues of 6 different magazines were included in the study. We found that 83.1 % of the plans had carbohydrate and fiber levels below the recommendations. On the other hand, the protein and saturated fatty acid levels were above the recommendations in 97.8% and 95.7% of the plans, respectively; 75.7% of the diets had inadequate calcium levels and 70.5% had low iron levels. Only 30 plans specified the total daily quantity of dietary energy and in 53.3% of these, the information was inconsistent with our estimates; 20% of the plans had no recommendations on daily water intake and 37.5% did not give recommendations regarding physical activity practices.


The diet plans for weight loss featured in Brazilian women's magazines are of low quality.

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