Diet/​Weight Loss Program Shoppers: Popular Plans Work


"Under the Affordable Care Act, health plans must cover obesity screening and counseling. Pharmacists can provide these screenings, help patients develop long-​term weight-​management goals, and also offer education on weight management. But they also can direct patients to popular commercial weight-​loss programs.

Kimberly Gudzune, MD, MPH, tested the effectiveness of these programs in a comprehensive study. The assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine spoke with Pharmacy Times about how pharmacists can use her evaluation to help their patients."

"She highlighted Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers as programs that have demonstrated in multiple scientific studies that they can lead to significant weight loss and have long-​term efficacy," Meghan Ross wrote in "Do Popular Weight-​Loss Programs Work?"

"Dr. Gudzune‰Ûªs study examined the amount of weight typically lost, adherence to the program, and harms of commercial programs compared with control groups that received either behavioral counseling or education, printed materials, and fewer than 3 counseling sessions with a health care provider. The researchers studied randomized, controlled trials lasting at least 12 weeks and prospective case series at least a year in duration."

"At the 1‑year mark, Jenny Craig produced at least 4.9% greater weight loss than the control programs, and Weight Watchers saw at least 2.6% greater weight loss."

"Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nutrisystem dominate the weight-​loss services industry," the researchers said. "Weight Watchers can sustain significant weight loss beyond 1 year, and it is 1 of the cheapest options available to patients. While Jenny Craig is more expensive than Weight Watchers, it has also resulted in greater weight loss than education and counseling participants, including diabetics."

"In a shorter time span, Nutrisystem produced at least 3.8% greater weight loss at 3 months than the control programs, and very low-​calorie programs such as Medifast and OPTI-​FAST had at least a 4% greater short-​term weight loss than counseling. However, the effect grew weaker beyond 6 months."

"Overall, Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig showed evidence of having the most long-​term efficacy, but more research and RCTs may be needed to prove Nutrisystem‰Ûªs long-​term efficacy. Very low-​calorie diets can provide fast results for patients, but evidence is lacking on their long-​term weight loss potential."

AudienceSCAN research finds 42% of diet/​weight loss program shoppers are men. Also, 37% of program shoppers live in urban areas. They're motivated to fit back into their "skinny" clothes, since 36% of these program shoppers are into fashion. Try a work-​out tie-​in with local skating rinks: 20% of this audience enjoys ice/​roller skating for exercise. They're 114% more likely than average consumers to have purchased at a product party or directly from a distributor (like Advocare, Mary Kay, Herbalife, Amway, etc).

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports inåÊAdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.