Weight Watchers is a points-based group weight loss program, while Jenny Craig is a weight loss program built around set menus and individual counseling. This difference in philosophy and weight loss strategy means these diets appeal to different sets of people.
If you prefer eating prepackaged food rather than counting calories, then Jenny Craig might be a better choice. But if you prefer flexibililty in eating anything you want (while staying under the daily calorie intake limit) and a less expensive program, then Weight Watchers is a better choice.
Weight Watchers members are allowed to eat any food they like, although the program currently encourages members to avoid processed foods. Instead, participants are given a set number of “PointsPlus” to spend on food every day. This number is designed to give them a deficit of 1000 calories a day and is usually between 26 and 71. Members also receive 49 extra points to spend however and whenever they like and can earn additional points through physical exercise. Once a member reaches their goal weight, they enter a six-week maintenance period, where they gradually increase calorie intake until they stop losing or gaining weight.
Jenny Craig provides all new members with one of several planned menus, based around its range of prepackaged food. Once a participant has reduced their weight by half of their goal, they can eat non-program food 3-4 times a week. Once they reach their goal weight, they stop using the packaged meals entirely.
Counseling and Support
Weight Watchers members attend weekly meetings that involve group discussions and weigh-ins to measure progress. Members are encouraged to view overeating as pathology. Those who are not willing to pay for membership can use the Weight Watchers online boards to support one another and share advice.
Jenny Craig offers weekly private, individual counseling sessions to members over the phone. These sessions focus on changing a client’s eating habits and lifestyle so that they will eventually no longer need to rely on the program’s rules.
Weight Watchers claim that people who attend their meetings lose three times more weight than those who diet on their own.
Jenny Craig was ranked the number one diet program by Consumer Reports in 2011, while Weight Watchers came third.
Jenny Craig is available in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France and Puerto Rico.
One study found that that 73% of Jenny Craig participants were still in the program after 4 weeks, compared to 63% of Weight Watchers participants. However, only 6.6% of Jenny Craig participants were still following it after 12 months, while 61% of Weight Watchers users stuck with the program for a full year.
Videos on Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers
Dietitian Lisa Moskovitz explains how the Jenny Craig diet plan works in the following video:
Dietitian Beth Kitchin explains why Weight Watchers is a successful diet plan.