Internet Dieting Sites Increase in Popularity, Little Known About Effectiveness
"Cyber dieting" is the "flavor of the month," as Web sites that offer dieting information and products are experiencing increased traffic, the Los Angeles Times reports. A "fad-driven" business, "e-dieting" has "captured the public's interest." For example, eDiets.com's number of paying customers "soar[ed]" from 33,000 in 1999 to 250,000 last year. Weight Watchers International now has an interactive Web service and DietWatch.com, CyberDiet.com and DietSmart.com are "claim[ing] 'tens of thousands' of paying members." However, while the Web sites are "attracting members in droves," the Times reports there is no evidence that e-dieting is more effective than in-person diet consultation, especially "over the long term." Dr. Thomas Wadden, director of the weight loss and eating disorders program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said, "I think the Internet is potentially an important source of weight management. Possibl[y], you're going to find that ... the electronic dietitian, can be just as good as ... the flesh-and-blood dietitian" (Roan, Los Angeles Times, 6/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.