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Jenny Craig Beats Other Diets for Long-Term Effectiveness, Finds Consumer Reports


There are many, many programs to choose from when it comes to weight loss but not all are created equal. If you want a plan that gives you the biggest bang for your buck, Consumer Reports recommends going with Jenny Craig over popular favorite Weight Watchers and five other diet programs.

Consumer Reports Health evaluated a total of seven diet plans and rated them according to a score that was based on their overall effect on weight loss, adherence, and how well they followed the 2010 US Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Jenny Craig was ranked number one with a score of 85 primarily due to a study published in the October 27, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The trial, which included 332 subjects, found that 92% of participants stuck with Jenny Craig for two years and at the end of that time weight an average of about 8% less than they did when they started.

“We were pleased to be rated as Consumer Reports' best-rated diet. This news confirms what we have always known: that Jenny Craig’s clinically proven, comprehensive approach to weight management works,” said Patti Larchet, CEO of Jenny Craig. “Jenny Craig’s personalized, food-body-mind approach paired with weekly one-on-one consultations helps clients create a healthy relationship with food and a balanced approach to living.”

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Surprisingly, Weight Watchers, a popular diet plan that promotes flexibility among food groups while controlling for calories, came in ranked third with a score of 57.

Another surprising victor in the diet wars was Slim-Fast, which earned the number 2 spot with a score of 63. On the Slim Fast 3-2-1 Plan, the dieter eats a bar or drinks a shake for breakfast and lunch, and then consumes a 500-calorie homemade dinner plus daily snacks of fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Consumer Reports senior program editor Nancy Metcalf says that dieters on the Slim-Fast plan overall get good results, but the problem is that people drop off because they are tired of eating the same food each day.

Although Jenny Craig works for many, when choosing a weight loss program that is best for you, find a program that you can stick with day in and day out, says Metcalf. For example, Jenny Craig’s prepackaged meals “are not haute cuisine, but if you like the fact that you don’t have to cook, it may be for you,” she says. If you want the ability to choose your favorite foods, she recommends Weight Watchers.

Also consider other factors when choosing a diet plan, such as recommended calorie level (Don’t go below 1,200 calories a day if you are a woman; 1,600 if you are a man), the level of support you receive for your money, and the proven science behind each plan.

Consumer Reports Rankings of the Seven Best Diet Programs:
7 – Nutrisystem (score – not rated due to no long-term studies available)
5 (tie) – Atkins and Ornish (48)
4 – The Zone (54)
3 – Weight Watchers (57)
2 – Slim Fast (63)
1 – Jenny Craig (85)