Jenny Craig Revs Up New Program

Jenny Craig'Tis the season to regret those Christmas cookies, and Jenny Craig is the latest player to offer improved programs to fat-fighting consumers.

Calling it the biggest program overhaul in its 27-year-history, the Metabolic Max program differs from past offerings by taking a much closer look at exercise, helping clients increase and monitor activity using an armband and software. The monitor gives clients a more realistic sense of how many calories they are burning, so they can use weekly counseling sessions to adjust the calories they consume accordingly.

The Carlsbad, Calif.-based company, owned by Nestle, says the innovations are based on research that people who self-monitor are more successful in weight-loss programs.

"What is great about the Metabolic Max program is that you can see how small amounts of activity can add up to something substantial," says Timothy Church, director of the Laboratory of Preventative Medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of Louisiana State University, in the company's press release. "You don't have to spend an hour at the gym. You can identify lifestyle opportunities to increase your activity, like parking in the farthest parking spot. This type of activity accumulates and increases your fitness level. This new program takes the guesswork out of the equation."

But Jenny Craig isn't the only one in the $55 billion weight-loss industry with new moves. The launch comes just weeks after Weight Watchers, the industry leader, kicked off its new Points Plus program, including a new ad campaign with success story Jennifer Hudson. That program is also based on new weight-loss science, featured prominently in its marketing claims. Rival Nutri-System has also intensified its advertising, with spots featuring Marie Osmond.

In its most recent quarter, Nutri-System's revenues fell 4% to $121.2 million, but it claims it is "well positioned to take full advantage of any improvement in demand trends as we prepare for the 2011 diet season." In the same period, Weight Watchers International saw its revenues gain 3.5% to $330.6 million, based on gains in both North American meeting revenues and Internet revenues.

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