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Sunday, June 25, 2006

Weight Loss Programs and Products #2

Commercial Weight Loss Programs

Commercial weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutri-System and Diet Center usually offer a 1,000 to 1,500 calorie diet and individual or group counseling. Few participants succeed in keeping weight off long-term.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) brought action against some companies and is challenging their weight loss and maintenance claims.

  • Before investing in a commercial diet program, ask the company the following questions.
  • How much, on average, do clients regain long-term?
  • What is their maintenance and follow-up program?
  • What rate of weight loss does the program aim for?
  • Does the program emphasize balanced food choices and exercise?
  • Are you required to buy specially formulated foods or supplements?
  • What are the costs for membership, weekly fees, brand food, supplements and counseling?
  • What are the credentials of those running the program?
  • What are the health risks?

Check your local telephone directory for the programs available in your community. Prices may vary by location.

Diet Center

Characteristics: Daily weigh-in and individual counseling.

Strengths: Encourages exercise. Strong support in psychological aspects of weight loss.

Weaknesses: Heavy reliance on supplements.

Comments:No contract required.

Jenny Craig Weight Loss Clinic

Characteristics: Weekly classes and individual counseling sessions. Both Jenny Craig preportioned foods and grocery store foods are used. Provides lifestyle management, motivation and nutritional information.

Strengths: Emphasizes behavior education and practical eating skills. Expected weight loss 1 to 2 lbs/week. Exercise encouraged.

Comments: Based on sound weight-loss principles, focuses on weight management, no wild claims or promises.

Overeaters Anonymous

Characteristics: Group meetings. Twelve-step program deals with physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of overeating. No "diets," weigh-ins or lectures on food and weight. Primary purpose is to stop compulsive eating.

Strengths: Encouraged to consult qualified professionals if interested in learning about nutrition or seeking professional advice. Provide good support structure.

Weaknesses: Binge eating problems do not apply to everyone.

Comments: No fees, voluntary contributions. Only membership requirement is a desire to stop compulsive eating.

TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly)

Characteristics: Diet based on a standard diet of regular foods. Group meetings for education and support. Groups organized locally, variation possible.

Strengths: Nutritionally sound diet. Emphasizes slow, steady weight loss. Encourages camaraderie for support.

Comments: Dues assessed per year. Less commercial than Weight Watchers. Nonprofit and noncommercial.

Weight Watchers Winning Points Program

Characteristics: Group meetings for education and support. Individual counseling available. Emphasis on meal planning. Calories not counted daily. Lifestyle fit and convenience is paramount. Weight Watchers food available, not required. Winning Points plan gives points to food. Each person receives a daily point allotment based on current weight. Plan to stay within daily allotment.

Strengths: Nutritionally balanced. Emphasizes slow, steady weight loss. Teaches how to maintain ideal weight. Personal daily exercise plan. No good or bad foods.

Comments: Lifetime membership by maintaining weight within 2 lbs. of goal weight for six weeks.

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