The Diet Report: Jenny for the Win?

Consumer Reports rates popular diet plans -- but which one is best for your body image?

Good news, Carrie Fisher! The current issue of Consumer Reports Health rates Jenny Craig as the top commercial diet plan on the market -- beating pay-to-play stalwarts like Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem and the Zone by a good 20 points.

The secret to Jenny's victory? A 332-person study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found 92 percent of participants were able to stick with the plan for two years, losing an average of 8 percent of their total body weight. Consumer Reports likes that Jenny Craig achieves these results via portion-controlled meals, although they point out: "if you don’t like the idea of eating pre-packaged meals, [Jenny Craig] might not be for you."

A lot of folks in the nutrition world decry pre-packaged meals because they're heavily processed and leave dieters at sea whenever they have to figure out what to eat off the plan. I say, if you hate to cook and/or lead a lifestyle that leaves no time for healthy meal prep, have at the freeze-dried Oatmeal Breakfast Squares. You could do worse. But here's what worries me: While you're defrosting your Vegetable Minestrone Soupitizers, what do commercial diet plans like Jenny Craig do for your body image?

The answer: Nothing good.

The Consumer Reports editors gave Jenny Craig points for offering weekly counseling sessions -- but no word on what kind of training these counselors have, or how they address the emotional ramifications of dieting. I'm going out on a limb here, but I bet their advice tends to involve you paying for more Jenny Craig products and services.

Jenny Craig has made a point to use relatable celebrities like Fisher and Kirstie Alley as spokespeople -- but all they talk about is about wanting to get their hot bodies back. To how they looked in, you know, the 1980s. Because that's realistic. "All the clothes in my closet [now] belong to another chick," Fisher has said. "I came across a posting that someone made about me which was, 'What ever happened to Carrie Fisher? She used to be so hot, now she looks like Elton John.' Yeah, that hurt."

Yeah, that does hurt. Body snarking (especially on the Interweb) is one of America's most reprehensible pastimes. But the solution is to use your celebrity to speak out against it -- not get busy dropping pounds so everyone will like you better.

And as for those dropped pounds, let's take a closer look at these numbers: Princess Leia reportedly shed 19 pounds in just 11 weeks and the Jenny Craig website notes in multiple places that most clients can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. But the results of their JAMA study tell a different story: The participants' 8 percent weight loss means the average 165-pound woman lost just 13.2 pounds in the space of two years.

That's 13 pounds in 104 weeks. Hmm.

Unimpressive weight loss results served with a side of fat-shaming? Yeah, I haven't called Jenny yet. In fact, I think I just lost her number.
 

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