- Are Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers Really the Best Weight-Loss Programs?
- Weight Watchers Vs. Jenny Craig: Which Plan Is Easier On Your Wallet?
- The best diet programs in Australia 2020 (with specials)
- READY-MADE FOOD DIET PROGRAMS
- WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS WITH MEAL PLANNING
Are Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers Really the Best Weight-Loss Programs?
Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, two of the most popular commercial diet programs on the market, are also the only two with enough scientific evidence to demonstrate that they effectively help people lose weight, researchers say.
An analysis of peer-reviewed data conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that of 11 commercially available weight-loss programs, only Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers help people lose at least 8 to 15 pounds after one year.
“We thought this review was important because physicians don’t have a lot of information on helping patients to lose weight,” says Christine Laine, MD, editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the publisher of the diet analysis. “Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) says you should screen patients for obesity, this helps provide guidance to doctors about which programs have evidence behind them.”
With more than one-third of American adults considered obese, the weight-loss business generates about $2.5 billion a year in annual sales. Direct medical costs associated with obesity, including an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis, accounted for an estimated $147 billion in U.S. healthcare spending in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The ACA directs doctors to follow recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Task Force, which advises clinicians to measure BMI (body mass index) and refer those considered obese to “intensive, multi-component behavioral interventions.” Insurers, under the ACA, must cover physicians’ screening process and in-office weight-loss counseling. Many insurers, however, don’t pay for out-of-office weight-loss programs.
“Given that prior research has found that many clinicians lack the time or training to perform weight-loss counseling, Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig may be a reasonable alternative to consider” for patients, says Kimberly Gudzune, MD, lead author of the diet review and an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research.
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Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers programs were supported by randomized controlled studies that showed participants lost 3 percent to 5 percent more weight after one year on their programs compared with people who either dieted on their own or received diet information from a counselor or printed material. While the weight loss was “modest,” Dr. Gudzune says it is enough to have a positive effect on health.
“With this small loss, people experience health benefits such as lower blood sugar, improved cholesterol profile, and decreased risk of developing diabetes,” she says.
“People don’t realize that they don’t have to get skinny to get healthier,” Dr. Laine adds. “Even if they just lose a little weight, it’s an advantage to them healthwise.”
Both Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers rely on counseling and calorie-controlled meals to help participants lose weight. With Jenny Craig, participants buy prepared meals and also receive counseling for an average cost of $570 a month. Weight Watchers participants buy their own food and eat what they want, based on a points system. They receive online counseling and support from group meetings with others trying to lose weight, all for about $43 a month.
The Johns Hopkins analysis, funded in part by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, examined 4,200 studies conducted over decades that considered the effectiveness of commercial weight-loss programs. Gudzone found most weren’t randomized control studies and therefore didn’t meet scientific reliability standards.
Of 32 major commercial weight-loss programs in the U.S., only 11 were rigorously studied and therefore included in the diet analysis. Besides Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, other diet plans examined include Nutrisystem, HMR, Medifast, OPTIFAST, Atkins, The Biggest Loser Club, eDiets, Slim-Fast, and Lose It!
Researchers found evidence that Nutrisystem helps participants lose weight better than a control group, but the data only followed participants for 3 to 6 months, not long enough for a significant health benefit. Nutrisystem costs about $280 a month, and also requires participants to buy the program’s prepared food.
None of the studies followed up on participants to determine if they were able to keep the weight off after the study ended. The Johns Hopkins analysis also cautioned that all of the evidence had multiple weaknesses, including that weight-loss trials generally don’t mimic real-life circumstances.
“The problem with all of these weight-loss programs is that none of them work very well unless the person is very motivated,” says Katherine Tallmadge, a nutritionist and former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “What people really need is to be taught how to shop for food, how to cook food, and how to plan meals for themselves and their families.”
Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to lose weight in the New Year? Any idea how much it will cost you to shed 20 pounds if you forgo going it alone and join a specific program?
WeightWatchers, Nutrisystem, and Jenny Craig all promise to help you lose 1-2 pounds per week. Realistically, though, if it takes you 5 months to lose all 20 pounds, here’s what you should expect to pay:
WeightWatchers, which is all about tracking points, recommends the online and in-person support, for $42.95 a month. For 5 months of their help, plus the cost of food, the program will cost you about $86 per pound (That’s assuming you’re spending the national average on food, which is about $10 a day, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The online-only version won’t save you that much, but is worth considering if you don’t want weekly weigh-ins and classes.
Nutrisystem is for the busy, on-the-go dieter who doesn’t want to track points. Offering different meal plans for men and women, the “select” program they recommend goes for about $10/day, but they also suggest you spend $80/month for fresh groceries to supplement their processed meals. Break it all down for 5 months, and the cost per pound is $120 for women; $127 for men. “If you’re going to try Nutrisystem, use it for the ability to eat consistently throughout the day and learn portion control for the future,” Keri Glassman, founder and president, Nutritious Life.
This program provides coaching and pre-packaged meals, but costs the most at $163/pound for the most basic program. It’s the meals that set you back, however as you get closer to your goal, your counselor will wean you off its meals so you can prepare your own less expensively.
Rounding it up: to lose 20 pounds, it will cost you $86/pound for WeightWatchers; $120 for Nutrisystem; and $163 for Jenny Craig–for the tools and the food.
Costs aside, what do the experts recommend? “Chances are, you’re going to learn the most from WeightWatchers, but if you’re not the type of person who can apply the education to your life then Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem might be a better for you,” says Glassman.
No matter what plan you do this year (For the skinny on other programs, For other, affordable ways to drop a few pounds, .
“Make sure you manage your stress, practice good sleep hygiene, get proper hydration, exercise consistently, and listen to your body”, says Glassman. “Eat when you’re slightly hungry and stop when you’re slightly satisfied.”
Which plan makes the most sense for your wallet and your health? Connect with me on Twitter @veragibbons and use the hashtag, #FinFit.
Weight loss is big business. Two-thirds of the U.S. population is overweight or obese, and Americans were expected to spend $2.5 billion on commercial diet plans and services in 2014. More than 60 percent of U.S. adults have made a serious attempt to lose weight at some point in their lives, and 29 percent say they’re currently on a diet.
But before sinking serious money into a weight-loss program that may involve spending hundreds of dollars on packaged meals, nutrition shakes, or counseling sessions, it pays to see which ones are most effective in the long run.
A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, reviewed clinical trials on some of the most popular commercial weight-loss programs, including Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nutrisystem, along with some like Medifast and OPTIFAST that promote more extreme calorie restrictions and meal replacements.
Out of 4,200 studies, they found only a few dozen met the scientific “gold standard” of reliability. Just a small number of diet plans were supported by data establishing that participants, on average, lost more weight after one year than people who were either dieting on their own, got printed health information, or received other nutrition education and counseling sessions.
One key thing the most successful plans had in common: social support. “They integrate teamwork. They really integrate a group approach,” medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips told “CBS This Morning.” “The only diets that work are those that you stick with, and if you have some companionship along they way, you’re more likely to do it.”
Weight Watchers Vs. Jenny Craig: Which Plan Is Easier On Your Wallet?
It’s hard to watch TV without catching a commercial featuring a celebrity touting the best program to shed pounds. Recently among those celebrities have been Jessica Simpson and the always-consistent champion of weight loss, Kirstie Alley, exclaiming the benefits of their programs of choice – Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, respectively. However, both of these programs cost money, so who is promoting the best plan for losing weight and saving money?
History of Paid Weight Loss Programs
Weight loss programs have been around for years. Growing up, I remember seeing weight loss commercials and wondering if the people promoting the products were really actors; it turns out they often are. But do the weight loss programs these celebrities promote actually work?
Weight Watchers started in 1963 when Brooklyn homemaker Jean Nidetch began inviting friends to her home to discuss the best ways to lose weight. From those meetings came the company that offers both diet plans and group meetings to promote weight loss in a healthy environment.
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Jenny Craig followed 20 years later when real-life Jenny Craig and her husband Sidney Craig created a nutrition, fitness and weight loss program in Australia. The company grew seemingly overnight by using a similar concept of combining healthy foods with weight management counseling.
Some people criticise both companies, calling them gimmicks, but celebrities like Jessica Simpson and Kirstie Alley say the plans actually do work for them.
Simpson reportedly shed 50 pounds months after welcoming her daughter on May 1, 2012. After starting the Weight Watchers program, which involved food and workout adjustments, it seems she was surprised by how easy it was for her to manage her health. As she noted in her program ad, “I had no idea I could be so in control and so free at the same time.” Of course, she has since stopped following the program after learning she was pregnant with her second child.
Alley, who has been an on-again, off-again spokeswoman for Jenny Craig has been a testament to a program’s success — as long as you stick to it. She’s lost and gained weight publicly with and without the program, but shared in a Quick and Simple Magazine article that the diet encouraged her to switch to organic meats and vegetables, while maintaining an exercise routine.
Of course, many of the celebrities vouching for weight loss programs are in it for the money and probably aren’t watching their budget as carefully as us regular Joes. So for the person who is looking to add to their savings account while losing weight, the value of both these programs is just as important.
Weight Watchers Vs. Jenny Craig: Battle of the Diet Plans
Weight Watchers allows clients to purchase their own food and prepare their own meals. The purchase of food, however, is guided by the program and monitored by its POINT system. Each food item is assigned points based on calorie, fat and fibre content.
A major part of the Weight Watchers experience is attending local meetings where individuals receive live support. The cost of the traditional program varies, but averages between $11 and $13 for weekly meetings. Members can also purchase a monthly pass for $42.95, which allows for unlimited meetings each month.
Clients also have the option of joining Weight Watchers Online. By signing up for the online option, members must pay a sign-up fee of $29.95 then a monthly fee of $18.95 (this fee is discounted for individuals who pay for three months in advance). With the online version, individuals still track points and have access to recipes, but don’t have the support of a live person via meetings.
Of course, food has to be purchased, but since Weight Watchers requires members to purchase their own food, it’s tough to estimate the costs. It will truly depend on a person’s individual diet and ultimate weight loss goal.
Jenny Craig takes a different approach to weight loss by offering its clients prepackaged and pre-portioned meals provided by the company. Vitamin supplements are also offered.
Like Weight Watchers, members get to select their menus, but because meal items are an initial requirement, the cost of the program costs anywhere from $49.99 per month to $488 per year, depending on the program chosen, along with an potential average of $130 to $150 per week for food.
One note to add about Jenny Craig is that the ultimate goal of the weight loss program is to move people away from their prepackaged items.
As explained to WebMD by Lisa Waltman, call centre manager for Jenny Direct, “As clients become more familiar with recognising correct portion sizes, the counselors teach them how to cook at home and to eat out.”
In other words, once clients are no longer dependent on prepackaged foods, the cost of the diet could very well decrease.
Which is More Budget Friendly?
By conducting a quick comparison, it appears that Jenny Craig is the budget-friendly option for the individual who wants to get started with a plan immediately without much financial pressure. Of course, before getting started with either plan, it’s important to review them thoroughly for a complete program and cost analysis.
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The best diet programs in Australia 2020 (with specials)
READY-MADE FOOD DIET PROGRAMS
Using a ready-made meal delivery service is the easiest way of all. You simply pick your food online, receive your delivery and heat it up. Like we say, no excuses. There are differences though. Some are fresh, some frozen and different ones cater to different diets and of course, different budgets. Here is our overview of ready-made food diet programs.
The recently rebranded Weight Watchers (WW) is the maker of the “#1 best diet for weight loss 9 years in a row,” according to U.S. News and World Report, so they must be doing something right. Besides offering personalised diets/meal plans created by nutritionists for those who are actively losing weight, WW is for anyone who wants to build healthy habits. Weight Watchers (WW) Healthy Kitchen is perfect for busy mums who want to prepare healthy meals but don’t have the time. Created by chefs and nutritionists, WW Healthy Kitchen’s ready-made meals are balanced, protein-packed, gluten free and without added sweeteners, artificial flavours or preservatives. One downside of this diet program is the lack of delivery option. At this time, you can only buy ready-made meals at Woolworths or the Woolworths online shop.
Box types: Meals for 1 person (400g per box)
Price range: $10 per 400g box
Pros: Chef and nutritionist-prepared healthy meals
Cons: The selection is quite limited (6 lunches and dinners) and there is no home delivery service at this time.
SPECIAL: $10 for your first month on selected 3 month plans. Ends 15/12/19. Min total cost $89
YOUFOODZ WEIGHT LOSS FOOD PROGRAM
Youfoodz is Australia’s #1 healthy meal delivery service (according to customer reviews) and they certainly deliver with a line of ready-made meals that are sumptuous, healthy and fresh, not frozen. Youfoodz aims to make healthy eating easy for everyone, and their ready-made meals are a great fit for the busy mum lifestyle. One of the popular diet programs from Youfoodz is the 70/30. It’s a line of meal plans based on the premise that by eating clean, healthy meals for 70% of the week, you can lose weight and become healthier. The 70/30 plan comes in three variants: Starter (10 meals for 5 days), Classic (10 meals and 10 snacks for 5 days) and Complete (15 means and 10 snacks for 5 days). You can create your diet program on their website, choose your favourite meals from an extensive list and have them delivered straight to your door.
Box types: Meals for 1 person
No. of meal kits per week: As many as you like
Delivery area: See list here
Price range: Snacks from $2.99 and meals from $9.95. Meal plans from $99-$213
Pros: Endless menu and meal combos, next-day delivery, fresh meals
Cons: Minimum order value for home delivery, meals are not frozen
SPECIAL: Select meals from $6.95 and snacks from $1.00 until 12/18/19.
LITE N’ EASY
When it comes to diet programs, Lite n’ Easy has it covered with its customisable, healthy meal plans that includes everything from mains to desserts—delivered to your front door. Dietitians create the meals and professional chefs prepare them, so you are sure to have a healthy, great-tasting meal on the table even if you’re too busy to shop or cook. Like other ready-made diet programs on this list, Lite n’ Easy is great whether you’re looking to shed some kgs, maintain your weight or just become healthier.
Meal plans: Full 5 and 7-day meal plans and dinners
Delivery area: See full list here
Price range: $6-12 per single-serve meal, $82-189 for full meal plans. Total price depends on chosen meal plans and delivery location.
Pros: Customisable meal plans with over 100 meals to choose from
Cons: Minimum order value of $49 for all deliveries
SPECIAL: Order your normal meal plan or dinner pack and add 5 extra dinners for only $49.
Jenny Craig is one of the popular diet programs offering home delivery in Australia. With the help of a dedicated personal consultant and chef-crafted meals delivered to your door, you can lose weight and not stress over food shopping or meal prep. Jenny Craig has over 70 diet meals (from breakfasts to shakes and soups) to choose from and 2 meal programs: the 12-week Trial and 12-week Premium programs. The meal portions are designed to be small (in line with their philosophy that smaller portions=easier weight loss), but you do get to eat nutritionally-balanced six times a day.
Meal plans: Trial (8-week membership) and Standard (6-month membership)
Delivery area: See full list here
Price range: From $10 to $99 (food cost not included), weekly menus start at $154
Pros: Dedicated personal consultant, popular with diabetics, vegetarian options, wide range of low-calorie, low-fat and low-sodium meals, pickup option
Cons: Prices tend to be on the high side, limited selection of vegan, paleo and keto meals
SPECIAL: $10 for a 10 week membership + $30 off food (cost of food additional). Ends 12/25/19.
The Gluten Free Meal Co.
The Gluten Free Meal Co. is filling a gap in the ready-made meals market with their gluten-free meals delivered straight to your door. Food preparation and production are strictly monitored by food technologists and ingredients are sourced from trusted suppliers to bring you the best gluten-free meals. Their varied menu has breakfasts, mains, soups, finger foods and even desserts, plus vegetarian and dairy-free selections. Perfect for time-poor coeliacs or anyone who wants healthy, yummy gluten-free meals without the work.
Box types: Meals for 1 person
No. of meal kits per week: As many as you like
Delivery area: Australia-wide delivery
Price range: From $8.95 per meal
Pros: 100% gluten free meals endorsed by Coeliac Australia, in-house food technologists to ensure high quality gluten-free meal prep and production
Cons: No full meal plans available
SPECIAL: Free shipping on all orders over $50.
WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS WITH MEAL PLANNING
The other option is to join up to a weight loss program with meal planning. These require you to prepare your own food following their guides. They make it super-easy, with some even going so far as to provide shopping lists! This is a more time-consuming but less-pricey option which lots of mums are loving. Here is our breakdown.
CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet
Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) recently released their Total Wellbeing Diet program that’s grounded on years of clinical testing and the latest scientific evidence. The goal of the Total Wellbeing Diet is not just fast weight loss, but sustainable weight loss and good gut health. It runs for 12 weeks and takes into account your behaviour and personality on top of nutrition and physical activity level in order to make healthy eating truly sustainable. The Premium Program comes with coaching sessions with a dietitian, unlimited phone support and cookbook. Both programs are unlike other diet plans in that there are no excluded food groups, meaning you can eat whatever you want as long as the meals meet the macronutrient requirement, which is essentially higher protein and low glycemic index.
Ease of meal preparation: 5/5, Thousands of quick yummy recipes that are easy to prepare, Also features shopping list creation
Price range: $199 for 12 weeks, $299 for the Premium Program, $19.95/month loyalty plan
Pros: Evidence-based weight loss, nutrition and exercise program with food and exercise tracking, shopping lists and meal plans
Cons: $19.95 monthly fee after completing the 12-week program
SPECIAL: Get a full refund when you successfully complete the 12 week program (conditions apply).
THE HEALTHY MUMMY
First on our list is The Healthy Mummy, the largest healthy eating and weight loss program designed specifically for busy mums. The 28-day weight loss challenge is the core of The Healthy Mummy. After signing up for a monthly challenge, you gain access to the program and mobile app for tracking progress. There’s no reason to get bored with meals as the menu and theme change every month. Besides a wide array of delicious and customisable meal plans, you also get thousands of recipes, home workout videos and an amazing national support group.
Ease of meal preparation: 5/5, bulk meal planning and budget-friendly recipes starting at $2.50/serve
Price range: Subscription plans from $158-$399 (3-month, 6-month, annual)
Pros: Affordable plans, nutritionally balanced meals, built-in workout program
Cons: Lots to digest and may be complex to get into for beginners
SPECIAL: Get 65% off on the 28 Day Challenge and other plans (pre-Christmas flash frenzy sale).
The ‘fast’ in the SuperFastDiet is more about fasting than speed, as it cuts down drastically on calories on some days of each week. The concept behind this diet program is to eat like you normally would for most days of the week (up to 2000 calories for women) and eat reduced calories (500 for women, 600 for men) on the other days. The SuperFastDiet has three fasting methods (2, 3 and part-day fasting) that lets you enjoy your favourite foods without guilt whilst achieving your weight goals. Subscribers also get multiple coaching videos every week, a personalised tracker and dashboard, and lots of recipes and meal plans.
Ease of meal preparation: 5/5, Easy meal prep with recipes and meal plans
Price range: Plans from $39 (1 month) to $199 (12 months)
Pros: Comprehensive weight loss program with meal plans, recipes and private support group
Cons: Not suitable for a lot of people (type 1 diabetics, teens, pregnant women, the elderly and frail, and those with underlying medical conditions)
SPECIAL: 14-day free trial, cancel anytime within 14 days
It’s easy to see why Michelle Bridges’ 12-week body transformation (12WBT) weight loss program is so popular. This online fitness and healthy eating plan attracts massive crowds of people looking to lose weight and live healthy lifestyles. Once subscribed, you get access to meal plan options, tasty recipes, weekly shopping lists, exercises and motivational videos. The plans are tiered for beginners (3 different beginner programs), intermediate and advanced users, so there’s something for everyone, even the busy mum. The program can also be customised based on goals, like pregnancy fitness, losing that post-baby weight, or becoming more active.
Ease of meal preparation: 4/5, There are multiple meal options, including cooking for one and time saver plans. Meal prep and food shopping can take a lot of time.
Price range: Starts at $199 for 12 weeks of meal and exercise plans
Pros: Sensible meal planning and fitness program geared for long-term health and fitness
Cons: Tracking weight/fitness and exercising can be time-consuming
SPECIAL: Join now and save $40 ($199).
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