5 On Your Side

Jenny Craig rates for nutrition, results

Posted May 11, 2011 12:08 p.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2011 12:09 p.m. EDT

Are you on a diet?

For many people, the answer is yes!

Often people rely on a diet plan to lose weight, often trying different diets, hoping to find one that will magically take off the pounds.

Most experts agree the best way to lose weight is to exercise and eat right. But many people, like Theresa Pavone, need the help of a diet plan.

"I've been dieting since birth. I've always had an issue with weight," says Pavone.

With so many diet plans to choose from, Consumer Reports analyzed seven of the biggest names, including the Zone, Jenny Craig, and Weight Watchers.

"We rated each diet on nutritional quality, and we looked at published studies to find out how much weight people lost on these diets and how well they were able to stick to the diets" says Consumer Reports Nancy Metcalf.

Weight Watchers recently revised its system that assigns points to every food you eat.

"Now Weight Watchers puts even more emphasis on filling, good-for-you foods like lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. But research on the program hasn't been published yet," says Metcalf.

Because of that, Consumer Reports didn’t include Points Plus as part of its Weight Watchers analysis.

The Atkins plan got the lowest score for nutrition in the Consumer Reports analysis.

 And while Slim-Fast with its shakes and nutrition bars scored near the top overall, it had the worst long-term dropout rate.

Jenny Craig beat them all with its prepackaged meals that you supplement with fruits, vegetables and other foods. Nutrition is excellent and the dropout rate is low.

"More than 90% of participants were able to stay on the diet for at least two years,” says Metcalf. “And they lost an average of eight percent of their starting weight."

If you don't like eating pre-packaged foods, the Jenny Craig diet might not be for you. It is working for Pavone. She has already lost 50 pounds!

"Jenny Craig fits my lifestyle because it plans out all the food I need to eat for my day, for my week, and so I can worry about other things," says Pavone.

Jenny Craig's annual membership fee is $400.

That includes weekly counseling sessions, but the packaged food costs extra.