5 On Your Side

Commercial Weight Loss: Is It Worth the Price?

Posted December 31, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Are Americans unimaginative or really overweight? Annually, millions vow to shed some pounds in the New Year, and many spend a considerable amount of money on programs and products that claim to make weight loss easier. But as WRAL 5 on Your Side ReporterMonica Laliberte discovered, the only thing getting thinner is often one's wallet.

Eat less and exercise more. It seems like common sense, but it's not what most people want to hear when they're trying to lose weight. Most still resort to quick fixes and scams. According to Jerry DeSanto of the Better Business Bureau, there are plenty of those available.

The Federal Trade Commission says Americans lost as much as $5 billion on deceptive diet products this year -- about one-sixth of the $30 billion total spent on the weight loss industry. Many diet programs don't disclose detailed information on their pricing plans and client success rate. Sharon Riguzzi of Weight Watchers says a healthy plan is better than a quick fix.

How do the legitimate programs weigh in? Four of the more popular ones were compared in terms of the cost of losing 15 pounds over 8 weeks.

Charging the heftiest fees was Jenny Craig. Registration costs $148 and special food is $72 a week. The total cost of trying to lose 15 pounds was $724 or $48 per pound.

Diet Center charges $175 to register plus a $55 weekly fee. Special food is optional. Losing 15 from your bottom line costs about $41 a pound.

Nutri-System's first-time fee is $149-dollars, with mandatory food costing $49 a week. The net cost there: $36 a pound.

Weight Watchers has the slimmest costs at just $16 for registration and a $14 weekly fee. Its cost-per-pound, to drop 15, comes to $8.

Anyone considering joining one of these programs should inquire about discounts. Many weight-loss businesses run seasonal specials that can keep you fiscally fit, as well.

While diet pills and programs may provide some inspiration, experts like to remind everyone that the pounds will only come off and stay off when you eat right and exercise regularly.