Nutrisystem is both the name of a company, and that particular company’s product. Created in 1972 and quickly launched on to the NASDAQ stock exchange as a public company – the Nutrisystem weight loss program takes a vastly different approach to weight loss than most other popular techniques.
Instead of providing counseling, advice, or shake products – the company’s objectives are to simply control the types of food being ingested by participants – based solely upon their status on the glycemic index table. This table lists and ranks foods depending on the effect they have on blood sugar levels in the body.
The theory is that by regulating peaks and troughs in the blood sugar / insulin cycle – the feeling of hunger (a critical factor in the weight loss process) can be kept under control. By providing members with regular food packages, the company directly controls the consumption and caloric intake of their participants, with very little need to provide any further service or advice.
Additionally, because all members are given the same meal packages each week (some variation does exist based on the information given when you sign up), results are said to be similar for all users.
A Scientific Theory
Unfortunately, the theory above does not quite stack up to its intended goals in real scientific testing. A number of studies have concluded that the ideas behind Nutrisystem are simply not strong enough to induce weight loss.
A somewhat severe study released in the Obesity reviews: an official journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity actually throws this entire theory out the window – concluding that the glycemic index has absolutely no correlation to weight loss. Instead, it only endeavors to promote the dangers of high blood glucose levels (diabetes) and helps people to lower them.
The bad news for the Nutrisystem program doesn’t stop there however. A study in BusinessWeek in September 2005 showed that after successfully completing the Nutrisystem program, a stunningly high proportion of people put the weight they lost back on.
Just a Nice Idea?
All of this speculation and controversy throws the theory of glycemic index relevancy to weight loss up in the air. Coupled with a rough company history of bankruptcy and aggressive advertising, a dwindling share price, and a business model structured to suck as much money out of consumers pocket as possible – the Nutrisystem is certainly not a contender in today’s top diet program lineup.