Taking Weight Loss to the Tech Level


These days, technology can have a profound impact on a business model by opening up new areas of growth and by making certain products and solutions more appealing to a tech-savvy audience.

Jenny Craig, www.jennycraig.com, is one such company. For the last decade, meal-plan programs like Weight Watchers and Seattle Sutton have helped consumers meet weight-loss goals, but a new device from Jenny Craig is raising the bar to a whole new level.

As part of its new Metabolic Max Program, the company is taking a more high-tech approach to weight loss by combining a calorie-counting armband and data-management software with meal planning and consulting to help clients maximize their weight-loss efforts. In essence, this is a new venture for the company—it is now offering a way to monitor calories “in” as well as calories “out.”

Users review their activity and calorie burn throughout the day with the data collected by the BodyMediaFIT armband by BodyMedia, www.bodymedia.com. The data is then uploaded to an online database (called the BodyMedia FIT Activity Manager) that allows clients to review their activity in realtime, as well as enter their Jenny Craig planned menus. In a client’s weekly one-on-one consultation, the consultant reviews the client’s caloric intake and activity levels for the week, and adjusts the program accordingly.

Although we have see similar devices, such as the bodybuggSP personal calorie-management system from 24 Hour Fitness, Jenny Craig’s system aims to help fitness novices see how easy it is to live healthier by simply adding more activity to your day.

“What is great about the Metabolic Max program is that you can see how small amounts of activity can add up to something substantial,” says Dr. Timothy Church, director of the Laboratory of Preventative Medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center of Louisiana State University. “This technology allows you to identify lifestyle opportunities to increase your activity, like parking in the furthest parking spot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. This type of activity accumulates and increases your fitness level.”

While some may speculate that users will ditch this type of fitness technology as quickly as they ditch their New Year’s resolutions, there does seem to be a growing interest in fitness-monitoring technology. Companies like Adidas are even starting to embed heart monitors into fitness apparel.

According to Jenny Craig, research shows those who self-monitor are more successful with losing weight and maintaining it. In fact, self-monitoring can even influence food and activity choices.

We can buy the fact that a high-tech accountability partner will likely help you shed a few pounds, but unless an alarm sounds when you reach for that Krispy Kreme, the information is still only as reliable as its user.

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