Do Weight Loss Centers Work?
One of the most popular franchises is, of course, Weight Watchers, which now holds 44,000 meetings a week in 30 countries. Americans are spending $40 billion a year on weight loss products and services. Many weight loss franchises, however, don't do very well in the long run. The Jenny Craig franchise, for example, saw its sales plummet after hiring Monica Lewinsky as a spokesperson.
The bigger question in all this is, of course, do any of these really work? Do they really help people lose weight, and if so, which ones work the best?
It's not such a simple answer, it turns out. My belief is that all of these approaches work if people are willing to work them. You can lose weight by altering your belief systems through hypnosis or neurolinguistic programming, You can lose weight by greatly increasing the amount of physical exercise you pursue. You can lose some weight by taking certain nutritional supplements, and you can lose weight by controlling your calories and managing your meals. So there is a winning strategy in all these weight loss centers. The problem with weight-loss centers and these franchises, however, is not that their plans don't work, but rather that most people aren't willing to work the plans.
As a writer of educational material that is made freely available to the public on topics like weight loss and disease prevention, I've often thought about ways to get groups together and hold meetings that would offer strategies for preventing chronic disease and losing weight. But each time I brainstorm this issue with knowledgeable people, I've come to the same frustrating conclusion: that most people may be motivated briefly to attend a meeting or alter their behavior for a couple of days, but in the long run, people will generally return to their old habits, and those old habits, of course, are the habits that made them overweight or diseased in the first place.
The fact is, most people aren't willing to do what it takes to change. And it takes quite a bit to change -- to cast away the standard American diet and the belief system that everything should be easy and effortless. In fact, being healthy is not easy and effortless, even though it certainly can be straightforward once you acquire the knowledge necessary to guide your lifestyle choices.
The fact is, it's much easier to get a customer to pay $2000 in the hope of losing weight than it is to actually get them to change their life in a way that produces weight loss. There's also a widespread belief, especially among Americans, that they should be able to pay a certain amount of money and have other people or services or products "fix them." That is, they shouldn't really have to do anything on their own, they should just be able to hire out these services that will make them healthy or thin. It's the mindset of hiring a cleaning company to clean your house, or hiring a car mechanic to fix your car. People mistakenly apply this thinking to their own health. They think they can hire professionals to fix their health problems without requiring any real effort or changes on their part. And that's where diets and disease prevention efforts ultimately fail, no matter which franchise we're talking about.
So it is ultimately the customer who decides whether these programs are going to be successful, not necessarily the franchise strategy itself. As I've said, I believe all of these franchises offer workable solutions, but relatively few people will actually work the solutions. One more interesting note to all of this is that you really don't need a franchise at all to lose weight if you're willing to do the work from the get-go. All you need to do is educate yourself by reading articles like this one and come to understand the true causes of health (and the relationships between foods and the level of health you currently express).
You can learn just about everything you need to know about being healthy on the internet, and if you take steps to apply that information in your own life, you can radically transform your health relatively quickly without paying a single fee to any health professional or weight loss expert.
Of course, sometimes it helps to get guidance from a professional, or to be part of a group effort where you are more strongly motivated to lose weight. And I think that these franchise weight loss centers can be quite helpful in that regard -- they can give you structure where otherwise it might be difficult to find that structure on your own. They can also help answer your questions so that you can clear up any confusion you might have about the relationship between foods and body fat.