Title of commercial online weight loss program
The site is labeled simply “Nutrisystem” after the company of that name based in Horsham, PA. Nutrisystem Inc. started up operations in 1972 as a telephone and subsequently online counseling service for those wanting to lose weight. At last count (end-2008), Nutrisystem reported gross revenues of $687.7 million and net income of some $46.2 million (Nutrisystem 24). The company is certainly commercially successful, now ranked #1 in the online retail good and drug category according to Internet Retailer magazine.
General Principles of the Weight Loss Program
The basic premise of Nutrisystem is that offers those who wish to lose weight a wide range of visually appetizing, indulgent, portion-controlled meals that can be conveniently delivered to one’s doorstep.
Nutrisystem makes no minimum or fast-track weight-loss claims, preferring to show graphically that their “members” can lose from 20 to upwards of 100 pounds by adhering to this flexible system of daily meal plans. By implication, the site assures men, women, vegetarians, and those afflicted with adult-onset diabetes that Nutrisystem has formulated and assembled food choices that are appetizing, appropriate and safe for the unique needs of each dieter type.
Support for Claims
For face credibility, Nutrisystem will go so far as to say that their meal program is sound for being based on “35 years of nutrition research” and offers a variety of great-tasting, satisfying high-fiber, heart-healthy, good carbohydrate meals that are low on the glycemic index and contain zero trans fats”. (Why It Works 1) For the most part, however, Nutrisystem relies on the power of paid celebrity endorsers (for the male audience, former quarterback Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins) and claimed letters/emails from satisfied customers.
The Nutrisystem service is unique for combining appetite appeal, painless meal planning, nutritional sense, putting the lid on daily calorie intake the painless way, and value pricing. The Nutrisystem’s unique selling proposition lies in virtually unbreakable control over total calorie intake per day while costing hundreds of dollars less in an annual cycle of 28-day meal purchases.
Indeed, it must count a unique benefit that notoriously weak-willed dieters no longer have to compute their calorie intake for each meal and the day in total. Instead, Nutrisystem gives “members” a choice from a wide range of low-calorie food which is high in protein, filled with “good” carbohydrates and “good” lipids (fats). The diet relies on lipids to ensure that the person will not crave food right away (White 345-50). This is because fats are scientifically proven to increase the digestion time in the stomach. And while the stomach is distended or full, a person should, in theory, not seek to eat more.
At each meal, one’s intake ranges from just 100 to 300 kcal. So, total intake for the day can range from just 500 to 1500 kcal, substantially below the 2,500 required by the average sedentary American male.
Given all the abovementioned factors, the Nutrisystem sub-site under assessment is aimed at men who are overweight and in their thirties or older because they were at least adolescents when Dan Marino was making mincemeat of the opposition in the NFL. The most important aspect may well be that a substantial portion of the Nutrisystem target market is probably middle-income, no more, owing to the service provider’s strategic emphasis on value pricing.
Especially-Promoted Foods or Nutrients
Nutrisystem relies on planning and portion control rather than specific nutrients or special foods to achieve weight loss.
By way of example, the consumer can order macaroni with cheese for lunch on day 1 of a 28-day plan. The site provides no pertinent nutrition information.
The Exercise Component
Nutrisystem offers not even a nod to the reality that one should also exercise for firmer skin tone when on a steady weight loss regimen.
Potential Health Risks
One cannot discern any potential health risks to a system that relies on common restaurant items. Even the daily 1,500 kcal limit would not unduly stress an otherwise normally healthy and fairly active individual.
Other than the usual business-building exhortation to stick with ordering prepared meals Nutrisystem offers no strategies or research regarding maintenance of weight loss.
Other than the common human failing of “rewarding” themselves with a calorie-rich dessert and the risk of suddenly not having the disposable income to afford delivery of prepared meals, one discerns no inherent barriers to compliance. The long-term risk is that, on attaining their target weight, “members” will experience the usual weight “seesaw” but this is not exclusive to Nutrisystem.
Bottom Line Assessment
For those who can afford it, Nutrisystem is in all likelihood completely safe and effective based on significantly reducing caloric intake but in a most pleasing way.