Scientists from Moores UCSD Cancer Center in La Jolla, California report that women who consumed prepackaged prepared foods from Jenny Craig and received in-person, center-based weight loss counseling lost an average of 16 pounds, or 7.9 percent of their initial weight.
Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the researchers note that women who received counseling over the phone also lost significant weight: 14 pounds or 6.8 percent of their initial weight, compared with an average of 4.5 pounds for the control group.
“For clinical practitioners, the evidence suggests that the structured program as applied in this study provides another route for their overweight and obese patients to achieve and maintain weight loss through behavioral changes for at least a two-year period,” wrote the researchers, led by Cheryl Rock, PhD., RD.
The weight management market is estimated by some to be worth nearly $20bn. Despite such potential weight loss and management programs are coming under increased scrutiny. The new study appears to support the efficacy of Jenny Craig for weight loss over a two-year period.
Rock and her co-workers recruited 442 women with BMIs ranging from 25-40 kg/m2 and aged between 18 and 69. Women were randomized to one of three groups: The first two groups received either in-person, center-based or telephone based weekly one-to-one weight loss counseling, including free-of-charge prepackaged prepared foods and increased physical activity for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The third group received two individualized weight loss counseling sessions with a dietetics professional and monthly contacts.
After two years of intervention, data were available for 407 of the 442 women. Results showed that the in-person group was the most successful for weight loss, closely followed by the telephone group. The control group did produce weight loss, but not to the same level as the other two groups.
"Findings from this study suggest that this incentivized structured weight loss program with free prepared meals can effectively promote weight loss compared with usual care group," said the authors. "Importantly, weight loss was largely maintained at two-year follow-up."
The research was welcomed by Patti Larchet, CEO of Jenny Craig, who said the findings have “immediate implications for the millions affected by obesity and potentially far-reaching effects on public health and policy.
“The results of this study highlight how the Jenny Craig program can significantly affect the obesity epidemic,” she added.
“We now have recent clinical data that proves that Jenny Craig – a customized, individualized, structured and comprehensive program – can lead to significantly positive weight loss and health outcomes, especially concerning improved cardiopulmonary fitness and behaviors toward food,” said Lisa Talamini, VP of research and program innovation at Jenny Craig.
2010, Volume 304, Number 16, Pages 1803-1811
“Effect of a Free Prepared Meal and Incentivized Weight Loss Program on Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance in Obese and Overweight Women - A Randomized Controlled Trial”
Authors: C.L. Rock, S.W. Flatt, N.E. Sherwood, N. Karanja, B. Pakiz, C.A. Thomson