Gaining weight affects more than just the size of clothes you can fit into. The National Institutes of Health warn that being overweight or obese increases your risk of several kinds of health problems, including heart disease and stroke. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem offer diet plans that can help you lose weight. Comparing the three plans can help you choose which program works best for you, your budget and your lifestyle.
Pick either the Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem diet programs if you don’t want to have to worry about meal planning, cooking or counting calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. These plans require you to eat the company’s pre-packaged foods for every meal of the day. This convenience increases the cost, of course. In contrast, pick Weight Watchers if you don’t mind making your own food; the program simply advises you how to choose healthy foods and doesn’t provide the food itself.
Compare the prices. This can quickly rule out a plan if it doesn’t fit within the restrictions of your personal budget. Weight Watchers is the cheapest, followed by Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig. As of September 2010, Nutrisystem’s basic plan starts at $72.49 a week. Jenny Craig says its prices vary depending on your specific plan, but claims its members generally spend $1 extra a day compared to the average per capita food expenditures reported by the United States Department of Agriculture. The USDA notes that the typical American spends $75.55 a week on food; with Jenny Craig’s reported averages, weekly costs would thus be approximately $82.55. Finally, Weight Watchers states that its cost varies widely depending on your city and state, but PersonalDiets reports that it averages to approximately $11.70 a week.
Check how much support you receive, as successful dieting often relies on the right amount of pressure and counseling from other dieters or from a dietitian. The Colorado State University Extension reports that both Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers provide regular individual and group counseling, unlike Nutrisystem, which offers only online social support from other dieters. Similarly, the first two offer local, real-life interactions in the form of Weight Watcher meetings or Jenny Craig centers. This might be important if you prefer face-to-face interactions instead of online-only discussions.
Review how each diet plan treats your post-diet lifestyle. The ideal diet prepares you for healthy living after you’ve achieved your weight loss goals. Both Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers focus on behavior re-education, practical meal planning and proper eating skills, according to the Colorado State University Extension. In contract, the extension warns that Nutrisystem’s plan does not simulate real life at all.