Type 2 diabetics might benefit from Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and Optifast commercial weight loss programs: Study

Type 2 diabetics might benefit from Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and Optifast commercial weight loss programs: StudyScientists at Johns Hopkins studied the effects of 10 popular weight loss programs in terms of the potential benefit to diabetics, but additional research is required before doctors can start recommending such weight loss regimens to patients.

Study leader Zoobia Chaudhry said, “A few of these programs may be a viable option for improving blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes and those at risk for the disease, but we need more gold-standard studies to make that claim.”


There is a substantial amount of previous research that revealed that losing even some of the weight can significantly lower blood sugar long term in type 2 diabetics. These studies, though, have been long associated with intensive lifestyle interventions, highly controlled diets, and coached exercises, which are not readily available to the growing amount of diabetics in the U.S.

On the other hand, commercial weight loss programs like Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and Optifast are widely available and easy to access – not to mention their cost effectiveness.

While there is a lot of evidence on the overall weight loss experienced, how this weight loss translates into glycemic benefits is often misunderstood. To determine this, the researchers evaluated medical research that looked at the effects of commercial weight loss programs on blood sugar levels in overweight and obese individuals.

The researchers focused on 18 studies that met their criteria. Ten commercial weight loss programs were cited in the studies. Among the 764 people across all the studies, Jenny Craig program reduced hemoglobin A1c a three-month average of blood sugar concentrations) more than weight loss counseling alone at 12 months, and Nutrisystem and Optifast reduced hemoglobin A1c more than counseling alone at six months.

Chaudhry suggests that it is possible that other weight loss programs could yield similar benefits for both type 2 diabetics and those at risk for diabetes. Unfortunately, too few studies have fully evaluated the effectiveness of these programs, so doctors aren’t able to confidently recommend such programs to their patients as of yet.

The prevalence of diabetes continues to rise in the U.S. even though it is a preventable condition. Lifestyle factors play a large role in the onset of type 2 diabetes, so effective prevention is possible.

Other diet plans for type 2 diabetes

Diet plays a large role in type 2 diabetes as it contributes to the many factors that increase a person’s risk for diabetes, like obesity, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. Here are some other type 2 diabetes diet plans, which can be effective in helping to manage diabetes and lowering one’s risk of developing the condition.

The DASH diet: The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is well known for its positive effects on lowering blood pressure, but it can yield benefits to diabetes, too. The diet focuses on the consumption of plants, nuts, legumes, and lean protein essential to healthy eating.

The Mediterranean diet: Once again, this diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and other healthy fats. It can help lower blood sugar because it reduces a person’s intake of unhealthy sugars all the while boosting heart health.

Mark Bittman’s VB6 Diet: This diet turns you into a part-time vegan (after 6pm) and bulks up on fiber, while reducing trans and saturated fat. Furthermore, meat options should be locally-grown or organic.

The Volumetrics diet: This diet consists of water-based foods and broth-based soups. Whole grains are also enjoyed as they provide fiber.

The Biggest Loser diet: The diet consists of eating specific percentage of carbohydrates and fat. It is easy to follow because there are no food restrictions, only percentage allowances. Refined carbohydrates and high-carb foods are restricted, which is beneficial to diabetics.

American Diabetes Association Carbohydrate Counting: This diet was developed by the American Diabetes Association geared specifically towards diabetics. In this program, the patients count carbohydrates consumed as directed by doctor or dietician.

Ornish diet/The Spectrum: This is essentially a vegetarian diet, so it can be quite restrictive for many – especially those who enjoy meat. On average, people following this diet lose up to 11 pounds.


Weight Watchers: This diet is also point-based, each food is awarded certain points, so in a day you have a total of points you can reach. Unfortunately, you can use your points on whatever you like, so if you continue to choose unhealthy foods, weight loss may not be possible. Furthermore, if you’re diabetic, there is a possibility of still overdoing the carbohydrate intake in this diet.

If you are diabetic, you should always consult with your doctor prior to embarking on a diet to make sure you choose one that suits your specific needs.

Related: Can you live without a pancreas?

Author Bio

Mohan Garikiparithi got his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). He practiced clinical medicine for over a decade before he shifted his focus to the field of health communications. During his active practice he served as the head of the Dept. of Microbiology in a diagnostic centre in India. On a three-year communications program in Germany, Mohan developed a keen interest in German Medicine (Homoeopathy), and other alternative systems of medicine. He now advocates treating different medical conditions without the use of traditional drugs. An ardent squash player, Mohan believes in the importance of fitness and wellness.



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