Everyone’s seen or heard of the diet plans they promote on TV – Jenny Craig and her own weight loss system, Jennifer Hudson promoting Weight Watchers in 2011 and 2012, or even Billie Jean King as a spokesperson for Nutrisystem, among many others. But are they all as effective as they claim?

Jenny Craig

The weight loss solution method known as Jenny Craig, or sometimes just “Jenny,” is a “three-level food-mind-body plan to help people lose weight and keep it off.” It began in Australia in 1983, sprouted in the US in 1985, and since then has gone international.

One the first level of the program, clients are taught how to eat small, but frequent, portions of food throughout the day. At the second level, they are taught how to use simple activities to increase their energy levels. And at the third and final level, the “program teaches clients how to build more balance into their lives in order to maintain weight loss and healthy diet.”

There are two different programs for Jenny Craig. One is located specifically in each of the physical Jenny Craig centers. “The company counts over 650 centers in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico.” However, there’s also an at-home program – as shown on TV – for those who find themselves incapable of going to one of the centers.

The program, though based on prepackaged meals, is not meant to sustain a client for life. Quite the opposite, actually. “The goal is eventually to wean clients from the prepared meals,” says Lisa Waltman, call center manager for Jenny Direct. “As clients become more familiar with recognizing correct portion sizes, the counselors teach them how to cook at home and to eat out.”

The official Jenny Craig website boasts of its “inexpensive” plan. “Only $7 a day. You’ll get seven breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. That’s only $49 for your first week of food.”

So, ultimately, the focus for this weight loss method is not on what to eat and what not to eat, but simply how to handle each type of food. Though this is an excellent method for those struggling to understand moderation themselves, the same dieting method can be used without this system at all.

Weight Watchers

To keep up with the trends and science behind successful weight loss, Weight Watchers retired its olds points program in 2010 and began an entirely new system, called PointsPlus.

As per usual, the official site brags that “millions have lose weight with the PointsPlus program” and that it’s “rated #1 best plan for weight loss and easiest plan to follow by US News & World Report.”

“The program is not a hybrid but an entirely new approach to safe, effective, and steady weight loss that takes advantage of cutting-edge weight loss science,” says Weight Watchers Chief Science Officer Karen Miller-Kovach, RD. the original system, though based on moderation, made it capable for clients to use their points anyway they liked. But the new system cuts down on all extra-fattening, high-carb foods, making for an easier yet stricter dieting plan.

Calorie counting is still a huge part in the Weight Watchers system. “The bottom line in weight loss is creating a calorie deficit – burning more calories than you eat.” Fiber and protein play a big part in the program, so foods rich in either of those substances carry only a small amount of points.

Another big change in the system is that now all fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables are unlimited for consumption – they have zero points, making clients capable of eating as much of them as they want.

With the improved plan, it seems Weight Watchers is now a better system than Jenny. Its state-of-the-art science along with tested formulas for the best approach to weight loss makes it very difficult to one-up. But once again, it seems that if clients are capable of knowing moderation by themselves, they can partake in this diet plan without the actual participation of being a Weight Watchers member.


Nutrisystem is the easiest dieting method – or rather, the most convenient. For those incapable of developing portion sizes and understanding the values of moderation, all they have to do is select which meals they want, and Nutrisystem delivers them straight to their door.

Since it began in 1972, Nutrisystem has undergone countless changes, and now apparently is “based on 40 years of science.” However, the description of their food plans on the official website seem to be well-researched and, ultimately, helpful for those who wish to lose weight.

Other than the monthly prepackaged meal shipments, clients also receive a “12-week, self-guided ‘Mindset Makeover’ behavioral guide, written by Temple University obesity expert Gary Foster, PhD, which address everything from curbing cravings to the importance of social support.” Guidance for fitness and physical activities, a weight loss community, and other support are all available online.

However, the major problem with Nutrisystem is that, like most diet plans, it is shot-term. Unlike Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, it’s not actually designed to wean away from the prepackaged foods. If clients don’t pay attention to the portion sizes or gain knowledge about moderation then the dieting plan is useless and, in the end, a failure.

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