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WW (previously Weight Watchers) and Jenny Craig are commercial weight loss programs. Before joining any program, it is best to research all options thoroughly.
WW and Jenny Craig both claim to take a multifaceted approach to weight loss, but comparing the two programs does reveal differences.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these programs. All information is purely research-based.
WW were founded in the early 1960s. They claim to offer a scientifically proven program for weight loss and general health, helping people establish healthful practices.
The WW program offers personalized guidance on attitudes and behaviors regarding food, activity, sleep, and mindset.
It begins with an online personal assessment, which matches an individual to a food plan.
Each food plan has a different blend of food points, which the company call SmartPoints. Food points are a tool that WW use to help people make healthful choices about what to eat. No foods are off-limits, but some foods have more points than others.
Following the assessment, WW also personalize the person’s app with suggested recipes.
In addition, WW offer action plans and support to increase physical activity, promote a positive mindset, and improve sleep. Trackers, content from experts, and other tips provide ongoing support, along with online and in-person coaching.
Jenny Craig founded the Jenny Craig commercial weight loss program in her name in 1983. The program combines intermittent fasting with nutritious meals and portion control.
Users start by choosing from the company’s different meal plans, which include:
- Simple Meal Plan: This plan provides breakfast and lunch for all 7 days of the week.
- Essential Meal Plan: This option includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day of the week.
- Rapid Results Max Weight Loss Plan: In addition to three meals a day, this plan includes free coaching, snacks, desserts, and the company’s Recharge bars.
While the Jenny Craig website does include some recipes, the program centers on the prepackaged food that members receive when they sign up for a plan. The company claim that chefs and nutritionists design their menus.
The most significant difference between these companies’ programs is that WW offer advice for people to make their own meal choices, while Jenny Craig provide prepared meals.
Neither weight loss program is proven to guarantee successful weight loss or maintenance.
With the WW program, people typically prepare their own food, making decisions based on their available SmartPoints.
The WW website says that the program includes more than 9,000 recipes that people can use to make meals that fit within the program’s guidelines. Possibilities include:
- Breakfast: Poached eggs with hollandaise sauce and bacon
- Lunch: Salmon, cucumber, and mint sandwiches
- Dinner: Filets mignon with fresh herb sauce and a light beer
Jenny Craig prepare food for program participants and deliver it in recyclable boxes and environmentally friendly coolers. Sample meals include:
- Breakfast: Cinnamon rolls
- Lunch: Pepperoni pizza
- Dinner: Chicken street tacos
Support in each program
Both WW and Jenny Craig offer guidance and coaching.
WW coaching choices include:
- Digital: Members-only community support and a 24-7 option to chat with a coach.
- Digital 360: The same as the Digital option, plus live and on-demand access to events, videos, and podcasts with coaches.
- Unlimited Workshops + Digital: This level adds virtual or in-person group workshops with coaches.
- 1-on-1 Coaching + Digital: WW allocate people who choose this option a personal, private coach.
Jenny Craig offer weekly private coaching with their Rapid Results Max Complete Weight Loss Plan, giving participants personal feedback, help with planning meals, and weight loss guidance.
Comparing the costs of WW and Jenny Craig is challenging because the two programs are so different.
The WW program costs much less per week than the Jenny Craig one, but Jenny Craig provide meals for the whole week, whereas Weight Watchers do not.
To make a useful comparison, individuals can estimate their average weekly spending on food and add that to the WW rates to see how the total compares with the Jenny Craig costs.
Weight loss programs frequently make claims about their effectiveness that have no back up from scientific research. People should be wary of brands that make unsupported health claims.
WW did not design their program to address a specific illness. However, in testimonials, members attribute their success in putting type 2 diabetes into remission to the program.
The Jenny Craig website cites a study that showed that the program’s type 2 menu might help people with type 2 diabetes. The company state the findings as showing that people who followed the Jenny Craig type 2 menu were able to lower their 3-month average blood sugar concentrations, cut down on their use of insulin, and lose weight.
A research paper reports that dietary approaches that consider weight loss as a more holistic lifestyle change yield the most long lasting improvements in weight and overall health.
The author notes that the training in healthful eating that the WW program provides offers significant benefits. They also warn that Jenny Craig participants might have trouble keeping weight off when they stop eating preprepared food.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that weight loss can help lower levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. They also note that people who lose 1–2 pounds per week while dieting are more likely to see long-term success.
Both Jenny Craig and WW emphasize the importance of a holistic approach to weight loss, but they offer different forms of support to participants.
The key difference is that Jenny Craig deliver prepared food, while WW guide people in making their own healthful food.
There is no evidence that one program is better than the other. Successful weight loss and management will depend on the individual.
A person should choose the program that will best suit their needs and preferences. People who prefer having the freedom to choose their food may benefit from WW, while those who think that they would benefit from having limited control over their meal choices may prefer Jenny Craig.