A new report ranks commercial diet programs. Finishing at the top: Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.
The report, which was put together by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and recently published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, involved an examination of nearly forty studies and eleven weight loss programs. Researchers found that people on the Jenny Craig program tended to lose the most weight, roughly 15 pounds. Weight Watchers users also fared well, losing about eight pounds and keeping it off for more than a year.
It’s worth noting that few people saw massive weight loss results–but that’s completely normal. Most doctors recommend people lose weight at a steady rate–about 3- to 5-percent of their initial weight.
Such moderate weight loss is “a really important first step to reach,” says Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Kimberly Gudzune.
The report also highlighted some good news: thanks to the introduction of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, it’s now easier for Americans to access obesity screening and counseling programs. The researchers note that this is an important step towards addressing the nation’s growing battle with the bulge, with roughly two-thirds of all U.S. adults currently overweight or obese.
Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig scored well because they both provide advanced systems designed to help customers manage their diets–the most critical step in weight loss. For example, Weight Watchers offers customers online and in-person support groups along with a points system intended to help dieters plan healthy meals.
It’s a strategy that is already working for Michele Rouse, an administrative coordinator at Johns Hopkins. She’s already lost seven pounds on the Weight Watchers program, and is hopeful that she can reach her goal of dropping 70 pounds.
So, why is the program working? Rouse says it’s about creating a realistic diet. “You’re not starving yourself,” Rouse said.