Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to Medifast (the 5&1 version marketed broadly to adults) in eight categories by nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and heart disease, and other diet experts on a ratings panel assembled by U.S. News. (See our Best Diets methodology.) Combined into an overall rating, Medifast came out near the bottom of the pack. The experts accepted that it can deliver short-term weight loss without straying wildly from accepted nutritional standards. But they were ambivalent at best in other categories, mostly handing out 2s and 3s. Below, ratings in all categories and how the experts’ opinions broke down.
Short-Term Weight Loss
The highest of Medifast’s ratings was for short-term weight loss, likely due to its very low calorie cap. Still, experts hardly came to a consensus—scores spanned the entire 1 to 5 gamut, averaging 3½ stars.
Long-Term Weight Loss
Keeping lost pounds off is unlikely, in the judgment of our panel. They’re doubtful that dieters won’t return to old eating habits once they wean themselves off Medifast. It ended up near the bottom on this measure.
Easy to Follow
Most panelists classified it as “somewhat difficult,” putting it below the average 2.6-star ranking in this category. “Unpalatable” and “unappealing,” is how one expert described Medifast foods, while another noted the difficulty of staying on Medifast as loved ones “eat normal food.”
Medifast squeezed out a slightly higher score in nutritional completeness than it did in other categories, but panelists felt that, compared with government targets, it provides too much protein and too few carbs. It earned a little over 3 stars.
When considering the health risks that Medifast might pose, most experts found it to be "moderately safe.” Most of our ranked diets, however, are ahead of Medifast in this measure.
At about 2½ stars, the typical adult plan didn’t seem to be a great option for preventing or controlling diabetes compared with most other diets, many panelists found. (Although the company markets plans for diabetics, experts did not evaluate those specifically in rating its effectiveness on this measure.)
For Heart Health
Our panelists gave Medifast an average of 2.7 stars, which defined it as a low-performer, when compared with the capacity of other diets to prevent or control heart disease.
Last updated by Kurtis Hiatt | December 27, 2012
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