Should You Trust Consumer Reports

You probably like to go on the Consumer Reports website before buying an appliance or car. Have you ever been there to look up the best weight-loss program on the market? In most people’s minds, weight-loss programs don’t really lend themselves to that kind of quantification. The way these programs are advertised and the way to go about their business, it just never occurs to people that these programs could lend themselves to rigorous scientific testing. Nevertheless, it certainly seems to have occurred to Consumer Reports; for they’ve done a shoot out of all the different weight-loss brands there are, and they’ve declared a winner. Among all the different commercial plans there are out there, Jenny Craig, Atkins, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, Zone and Slim Fast, Jenny Craig has been declared the winner.

So should everyone drop everything else and just go with  consumer reports what Consumer Reports has declared to be the best weight-loss program on Earth? Well, have you ever seen those car advertisements where they declare great mileage figures in bold and then quietly, in fine print, say that your mileage may vary because to get those great figures they’ve advertised, you need their standard test conditions? Well, there’s something of the same kind of uncertainty that goes along with the claim by Consumer Reports.

To begin with, Consumer Reports never tested any of these weight-loss programs on their own. Instead, they looked at scientific studies done by various people and various authorities. The Jenny Craig study for instance, was something that was published in the JAMA medical periodical. They tested hundreds of overweight people in this study, while they gave them free enrollment to the Jenny Craig program and signed them up for thousands of dollars worth of Jenny Craig’s food to make sure that they stuck with the program.

Well, if you give people free food that’s prepared and packaged and ask them to stick to that, of course they love to do that. People like saving on food expenses whenever they can and they love to not have to cook. In the real world, if you were to sign up for Jenny Craig and her approved food yourself, you would have to pay $100 every week for the food. And oh, no one pays you a stipend when you sign up to Jenny Craig on your own coin the way they do with those medical studies.

If you wish to learn about whether Jenny Craig is the best weight-loss program out there, how about looking at another study, this one done by the Cooper Institute in Texas. The Cooper Institute didn’t pay people to participate – or give them free food. They just tracked tens of thousands of people who had signed up to Jenny Craig. They found that only 7% of hopeful slimmers stayed with the program after a year.

The moral of the story is, that just because Consumer Reports can be great with consumer appliances and services doesn’t mean they have to be good with medical stuff.

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