Getting Bikini Ready: Weight Watchers vs. Jenny Craig

Posted on 03/24/2014

Swimsuit season will be here before you know it. If you're considering joining a weight loss program to get your behind in gear you probably want to know more about two of the most popular options: Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. While both companies have similar health philosophies they will have a very different impact on your pocketbook.

Humble Beginnings
Weight Watchers has been around for 45 years. It was founded in 1963 by Brooklyn homemaker Jean Nidetch. Jenny Craig, Inc. began in Australia in 1983 and arrived in the US two years later. It was created by Jenny and Sidney Craig as a nutrition, fitness and weight loss program.

The Approach
Jenny Craig counsels clients to change their lifestyle and eating habits through the use of prepackaged food, planned menus and consultations. But once the desired weight is reached, clients don't have to use these special tools. Weight Watchers also encourages healthy habits and eating smarter but through the PointsPlus system. Every food is assigned points based on its calories. Once the person reaches their goal weight they enter a six week maintenance period in which food intake is gradually increased. If they maintain their weight customers then become lifetime members and can attend meetings free of charge.

Calories Allowed
While both Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers have a similar approach they have very different caloric allowances. Jenny Craig allows members to consume 1,315 calories a day while those on Weight Watchers can eat 1,865 a day.

Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports recently reviewed Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and a few other weight loss programs. It gave the highest score to Jenny Craig, citing the success of its customers as the main reason. "A whopping 92 percent were still using Jenny Craig two years after joining, according to a study in the journal of the American Medical Association. Participants had lost an average of 8 percent of their body weight," stated the article.

The Cost of Weight Watchers
Although prices can vary depending on your location, Weight Watchers generally costs about $42.95 a month. That includes eTools, a full suite of Weight Watchers apps and a monthly pass that allows you to go to unlimited meetings.

The Cost of Jenny Craig
Jenny Craig's monthly fee is $29.99 plus the cost of food. Right now you can get your first month free and avoid a one-time $49.99 enrollment fee. The program also comes with a guarantee to lose 12 pounds in 12 weeks or you'll get your money back, up to $85. A minimum food purchase and weekly consultations are required. The food makes this program much more expensive, but over time users start switching over to healthy, cheaper options from their grocery store. A 3-day sample kit is $39.99 and includes three breakfasts, three lunches, three dinners, three snacks and three salad dressings.

By Alison Storm

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