Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to Jenny Craig in eight categories by nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and heart disease, and other diet experts on a ratings panel assembled by U.S. News. (See our Best Diets methodology.) These experts were impressed with the diet on several measures, including its ability to deliver weight loss, how easy it is to follow, and its safety. Some noted cost as a potential drawback—the plan isn’t cheap—while others were concerned about weight regain, once dieters wean themselves off prepackaged meals. Jenny ranked 8th overall, trailing behind its rival, Weight Watchers. Below, ratings in all categories and how the experts’ opinions broke down.
Short-Term Weight Loss
Most experts judged Jenny Craig to be “very effective,” and their averaged scores put it ahead of many other diets in this category. Some applauded it for teaching proper portion sizes and helping dieters learn to eat when they’re hungry—not when they’re bored or emotional.
Long-Term Weight Loss
Only a handful of diets were rated better than moderately effective, and Jenny Craig was among them. In the near-total absence of rigorous long-term studies, experts are reluctant to conclude that any diet will work over the long haul. Still, when compared with other diets, Jenny Craig was among the strongest contenders, earning over 3 stars.
Easy to Follow
Jenny Craig takes the guesswork out of dieting, with home-delivered, prepackaged meals that are tasty to boot. It edged out nearly every other diet in this category, coming in at No. 2. Our panel liked its convenience factor, and the built-in support from Jenny counselors who help dieters stick with the program.
Jenny netted one of its highest scores in the nutrition category. It provides the government’s recommended amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, and supplies ample fiber and calcium. Many panelists described it as a nutritionally-sound diet.
When our experts considered the health risks posed by Jenny Craig, most handed out 4s and 5s on a 5-point scale. One panelist described it as a “scientifically sound and safe” program that’s appropriate for most dieters.
As a diet for preventing or controlling diabetes, Jenny Craig landed in the middle of the pack. Although some evidence suggests it may help on both fronts, largely via weight loss, most experts doled out moderate scores.
For Heart Health
Jenny Craig cleared roughly 3 stars in this category. It’s not designed to improve cardiovascular health, but some research suggests that since the plan yields weight loss, it may also cut the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Last updated by Angela Haupt | January 02, 2013
Slim-Fast is a reasonable approach to dieting with convenient, grab-and-go shakes and bars. It's fairly easy to follow, but it's not very heart-healthy.
Nutrisystem determines portions, prepares and delivers your meals, and tells you what to eat and when.
Weight Watchers is an effective diet. Among its pros: An emphasis on group support, lots of fruits and veggies, and room for occasional indulgences.