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Weight Loss Programs: How Do They Measure Up

by Cori Ritchey

 

Getting healthy is not the easiest thing to do on your own. While there is an abundance of information on the internet, sorting through it all can feel overwhelming and sometimes degrading. A 2020 study from Drexel University found that having someone to help keep people accountable along their fitness journey kept motivation high, and ultimately led them to be much more successful.

 

There is an abundance of weight loss programs, apps, and clinics, so finding the perfect match can be difficult. Here’s a breakdown of 4 popular (and very different) weight loss programs to help you select which one works best for you.

 

Jenny Craig

Jenny Craig has been one of the most popular and longest running weight loss programs around the world. They have over 700 offices across the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The program boosts “science-backed plans” and “foods you love”. Jenny Craig is a program where the more money you put into it, the more you will get out of it.

 

They provide 3 options: the Simple Meal plan for $12.99 a day which provides you breakfasts and lunches; the Essential Meal plan for $20.79 a day which tags on 7 dinners; and the Max Up Weight Loss Plan, which provides all of the above plus 7 snacks and desserts, 7 energy bars, personal coaching, and an activity guide for $22.52 a day.

 

The food can either be shipped directly to you or picked up at one of their offices. Kayla Corazzi, a Jenny Craig user from Philadelphia, had a fantastic experience on their Max Up Weight Loss plan.

 

“Being the picky eater that I am, it was the perfect weight loss program for me because I still got to eat all the foods I love and satisfy every craving,” Corazzi said. “Having another person record my weight each week was huge.”

 

One of the biggest qualms about the Jenny Craig diet is there is little to no guidance on eating outside of the food they give their participants. All of the food needs to be reheated, so can be difficult for clients to follow if they do not have a microwave at the ready. Since these foods are pre-prepared, many of them are processed and are very high in sodium.

 

Noom

Noom is a weight loss app that was launched in 2008 and has recently found popularity. It focuses most on the psychological aspect of living a healthier lifestyle, and uses techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy to help change it’s users' habits. As Noom puts it, this tactic helps you “lose the weight and keep it off for good”. The app does not give you a set meal plan, but teaches you which foods you can have often, and which foods to only indulge in sometimes. Participants work through daily lessons and quizzes, and you are provided with a coach and accountability group on the app.

 

While all the programs are individualized based on your goals, at its most expensive, Noom can rack up to be about $50 a month. The longer you commit for, however, the more the price can come down.

 

Noom labels different foods as green, yellow and red. You can have plenty of green foods, some yellow foods, and limit red foods. They give you a calorie goal to reach each day, and it is a low calorie diet.

 

While the app is said to help their participants' mental health and thoughts around dieting, there have been countless news stories of users finding it triggering. There are reports that the number of calories the app allows women to consume is too low, and while the company praises anti-dieting, the guidance given points to a simple low-calorie diet.

 

“Because it felt like the diet was extreme, I would say I did get success from it, but the results did not last,” said Camille Russo, an old Noom user. “Honestly I don’t think that noom was very helpful, if anything it was a bit triggering by labeling foods as red, yellow or green because I truly think foods are fine in moderation and this mindset can create an unhealthy relationship with food.”

 

The company just settled a lawsuit for $62 million dollars from user complaints about overbilling. The lawsuit claims that the company had users sign up for low-cost trials that rolled over into subscriptions uncleared by the users. Noom has said it will change these practices and make the sign up process more clear. 

 

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers is one of the oldest weight loss platforms on the market, starting its run in 1963.

 

Weight Watchers costs $22.95 a month, and it operates off a point system. Every person gets a  personalized allocation of points per day, and certain food costs a certain amount of points.

 

“The points correspond to food and relative nutrition value,” says Emily Bomba, a Weight Watchers user. “Fruits and vegetables are zero points, a half cup of rice is about 3 points, verses a Big Mac which is about 30 points.”

 

The app supplies many recipes and an on-demand coach that you can contact with any questions. They do offer meetings at their sites and online as well. The point system, much like the color code used with Noom, suggests a low calorie diet.

“The big qualm that I have with WW is that it leads to me having some disordered thoughts about food restriction,” says Weight Watch user Maria Costanzi. “I didn’t like the value assigned to certain foods. There were some meals that made my body feel fantastic but weren’t good options in the eyes of Weight Watchers.”

 

Even with the qualms of Weight Watchers, both Maria and Emily have found success in the app.

 

“Weight watchers taught me how to portion control,” Emily said. “By following the program, I lost 50 pounds and successfully kept it off.”

“With the point system set up to reward more “whole” foods and less packaged foods, it lead me to making choices that ultimately made my body feel better and eventually lose weight,” Maria said. She lost 20 pounds.

 

Healthy Wage

This one's for the competitive people out there! HealthyWage is a system for users to bet on themselves. The faster you can lose a higher amount of weight, the more money you get back. The larger the amount of money you bet on yourself, and the sooner you pay that amount, the larger the return. Again, the more you put in, the more you get out.

 

With HealthyWage, there are no meal plans or exercise regimens, it’s simply a monetary way to keep yourself accountable. If you’re the kind of person who gets competitive over money, or really just needs something physical to hold them accountable, this one's for you.

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Cori Ritchey is a Washington D.C. native newly transplanted to the Boston area, expected to graduate from Emerson College in 2022 with a Masters in Journalism. She is a graduate of  Penn State University with a bachelors of science in Kinesiology. Through her experience working on the frontlines of health care, led by a love for reading, writing, and public speaking, Cori became a health and science reporter to shed light on these issues.

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Urgent Care or Emergency Room – How to Decide?

by Faalik Zahra

Patients in need of immediate medical attention often are confused as to what healthcare facility they need to go to: urgent care or emergency room. Seemingly, the two have similar functions, to provide prompt medical care to a patient. So, what are their differences, and how do you decide where to go?

 

The first step is understanding the purpose of an urgent care compared to the emergency room.

 

Urgent Care

Urgent care centers are quick care healthcare facilities where patients are able to see a healthcare provider either by appointment or as a walk in. Patients often coming to urgent cares are in need of immediate medical care and are unable to see their physician. According to Mount Sinai Medical Center, urgent care centers “provide easy access to quality healthcare for the times when your primary care physician’s offices are closed.” Urgent care centers typically have hours beginning in the early morning and are open until 9pm or 10pm at night.

 

Emergency Room

Emergency rooms are a department in the hospital that treats patients in critical conditions. Patients in the emergency room are often in life threatening situations and thus need in immediate attention. Emergency rooms are located in hospitals which allows them to have all the resources necessary to care for these patients should they required surgery and/or hospitalization.

 

Deciding How Urgent Your Symptoms Are

The next step is for the patient to understand their condition and the severity of it. This will lead them to the facility which is better suited for them.

 

When the illness or injury is minor but requires medical attention within 24 hours, an urgent care center is the best place to go. Some common illnesses treated at urgent care centers are “falls, minor cuts that need stitches, breathing difficulties, flu, minor broken bones, and many others.”

 

It would be beneficial for an individual with a minor illness or injury to visit an urgent care center because they will receive their treatment quickly. Emergency rooms are often extremely busy and thus treat patients through a triage system that assesses how severe the patient’s condition is. If a patient’s condition isn’t life threatening, the patient may remain in the waiting room until the more severe cases have been addressed by the emergency medical staff. In this case, it would be better for the patient to go to the nearest urgent care center.

 

What is the general criteria for emergency room care? Is the condition life-threatening or is or was the patient unconscious or has the patient been injured severely.

 

If in doubt, a patient should always go directly to an emergency room, either by call, or if truly urgent, have someone dial 911 for an ambulance where you will be cared for by an emergency medical technician at the site of the call and on the way to the hospital.

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Faalik Zahra studies neuroscience and journalism at the University of Cincinnati and plans on becoming a physician. She has always had a strong inclination towards writing and sharing stories which have led her to pursue a journalism degree as well as founding an online media portal, Bearcat Voice. As a Senior Contributor, Faalik combines her passion for writing and her interest in medicine to explain medical issues to patients in a way they can clearly understand.

Take Time to Laugh

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March 2022  page 5