Healthy lifestyle diets is the new buzzword for the traditional dieting plans. These plans have changed their marketing approaches to reengage former customers and draw in new ones in 2019.

Here are some of the reasons these traditional weight loss programs, now rebranded as healthy lifestyle diets, have continuing appeal to dieters.

The Traditional Programs Remain Strong

The main players are:

  • WW International (formerly Weight Watchers International),
  • Nutrisystem, and
  • Jenny Craig

These programs grew 18.1 percent to $3.11 billion in 2018. This year, they’re likely to grow 8 percent to 12 percent.

Why Weight Loss Clients Continue to Seek Out the Same Failed Programs

Marketdata research director John LaRosa says:

  • Dieting is a discretionary expenditure; it can be postponed or eliminated entirely.
  • The programs all benefit from a strong economy.
  • But there are a lot of things the diet companies themselves have done to change or improve their programs that have been just as important to increasing revenues in the last couple of years.
  • Embracing technology is one of those changes.
  • Hand in hand with that are a focus on social media, partnerships with influencers and rebranding, which includes deploying words like “healthy lifestyle” rather than “diet.”
  • The average age of most weight-loss programs’ members is a woman in her mid- to late 40s. Recent re-targeted marketing efforts have increased the number of men in these programs.

Here’s how the top weight loss programs stay in business.

Weight Watchers

  • WW has stayed front and center, thanks first to its more than half a century of staying power and now to its embrace of bold-faced names, such as media mogul and company investor Oprah Winfrey.
  • The company’s recent pivots include a name change in September from Weight Watchers to simply WW and the December 2017 launch of its Freestyle program, which added 200 foods to the freebie list, making the weight-loss plan easier to follow.
  • WW products range from branded groceries, to a WW Cruise, to a partnership with the meal kit company Blue Apron.

Jenny Craig

  • Jenny Craig had 25 percent more enrollments in 2018 than 2017, and a quarter of the people who joined in 2018 were men versus 15 percent the year before.
  • The average age is 47, and most people stay in the program for five months. Thirty percent come back within 10 years.
  • Jenny Craig believes that a lot more people are conscious about their health, and a lot more are conscious about their health early in their lives.
  • It targets everyone from Gen Y to baby boomers as potential members.


  • For Nutrisystem the message to would-be members is about a variety of options.
  • They include its new DNA-focused weight-loss plan and the South Beach Diet brand (which it acquired in 2015), as well as a program for people with Type 2 diabetes.
  • Nutrisystem has also added a new Nutrisystem FreshStart Program, targeted to younger customers looking for more flexibility.
  • Its segmented audience is 70 percent female, and the average member is in their 40s. The average customer stays on for about three months.
  • Its marketing approach focuses on a holistic approach or a journey for optimal health.

Healthy Lifestyle Change is the Only Long-Term Weight Loss Solution

But none of these weight loss diets, despite now being marketed as healthy lifestyle diets, works in the long run. In fact, the vast majority of all dieters who lose weight on one of these traditional diet plans, regain it over time. I see them all as temporary reprieves from the real world where food choices are coming at us 24/7. For a period of time dieters, permit the program to dictate their food choices and they are motivated by the numbers coming down on the scale.   

But inevitably all dieters bridle under these restrictive calories deprivation diets and take back control over their food choices. The weight comes back on because they still don’t have the skills necessary to successfully navigate today’s food centric society.

Don’t waste your time with yo-yo diets. Make the decision that you need to live in the real world, adopt a healthy lifestyle and acquire new skills.

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