Type of Counseling: one-to-one, by "company consultants"
Typical Cost:$450-580 (based on 3 month’s service)
Type Program:commercial weight loss center chain
Type of Foods Used: regular grocery store, company foods and supplements optional
At-Home or Direct Mail Plan Available? Yes
Diet Center Worldwide
395 Springside Drive
Akron, OH 44333-2496
330-666-7952 or 1-800-205-7887 or 800-656-3294
Websites: www.dietcenter.com and www.healthmanagementgroup.com
Diet Center, Physicians Weight Loss Centers, and Form You 3 Intl. are operated as a "triad" of companies owned and operated under an umbrella parent company named Health Management Group. Charles Sekeres is the owner and previously owned and operated only Physicians Weight Loss Centers. Several years ago, while Diet Center was struggling, he bought the company’s trademark and marketing rights, folding this then independent weight loss franchise into his company. The same was done with Form You 3.
Based on management interviews in late December 2003, it appears that Diet Center now operates about 150 total centers(vs. 226 centers in the Fall of 2002). These are located in the U.S. (135 sites), and in Canada (15). Most of the centers are located in California, North Carolina and Nebraska. The company claims that 74% of its centers are owned and operated by women, 14% by husband & wife teams.
Sybil and Roger Ferguson of Rexburg, Idaho founded Diet Center in 1970, and the first company franchise was sold in 1973. Franchises are now actively being sold. Diet Center claims to have served more than 4 million clients over its history. Like most weight loss companies in recent years, this chain has been pared down as well.
Most centers are located in professional office buildings, but more have been opened in retail "strip" malls in recent years. Typically, a center is run by two people--one full-timer and one assistant.
People from all vocations operate these franchises. Many franchisees are former Diet Center clients. Most franchises are very small operations, run by 2 or 3 people. The busiest centers may have larger staffs. Some owners are dietitians. The company has "certified counselors", which means they have undergone 2 weeks of company training. They are not all certified by any outside organization. In many cases, the franchise owner also does counseling of clients. Counselors cannot dispense advice of a medical nature, or deal with complex nutritional issues. If you ask a question they can’t answer, they have to consult with the company’s dietitians or bariatrician and get back to you. You may also call the 800 number and speak to the company’s dietitian.
How The Program Works
The Diet Center program is based on regular foods available in grocery stores and restaurants. Management reports that all of its plans are in the process of being streamlined and reformulated (to lower carb mixes) for 2004. There are actually 5-7 different programs within the Exclusively You category. The company also has a vegetarian program and a lactose intolerant program. The average woman on their programs is claimed to lose about 6 lbs. In the first 2 weeks and 14-17 lbs. In 6 weeks, on the Exclusively You plan.
The typical customer is a 30-50 year old female, with 20-30 lbs. to lose. She may have been referred to the company via her doctor, and usually stays on the plan 5-7 weeks. Dieters come to the center up to six days per week (at least once, 3 times/week recommended) for private, individual counseling and weigh-ins. They can also attend weekly nutrition education classes with other dieters. After the weight loss phase, you go through two 3-week "stabilization" periods.
Diet Center Worldwide claims to be the only commercial weight loss program that measures, monitors and helps to manage the ratio of body fat to lean body mass in dieters. To participate in the Exclusively You program introduced in 1991, customers must first undergo a Body Composition Analysis. Using an ElectroLipoGraph to determine the ratio of lean-to-fat body mass in each client.
Dieters with certain pre-existing medical conditions or who have more than 50 pounds to lose are required to obtain their doctor's approval before starting the program. After every 40 lb. weight loss increment, the doctor's approval is required in order for the patient to continue. Counselors will require patients with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, gout, or a history of gallstones, kidney stones, and any form of cancer to receive their doctor's approval before dieting.
Company "consultants" are not health professionals. They receive training at the Diet Center Counselor Certification Program. Consultants administer the program as specified by the company, and receive ongoing training materials and updates on health and fitness information from the headquarters.
Diet Center currently offers the following weight loss programs:
a 3-part personalized plan under the supervision of a personal counselor.
The most aggressive plan, using 180 cal. meal replacement drinks and 180 cal. bars. The drinks cost $2.57 ea. or $30 per box of 12. The bars also cost $2.57 ea. or $18 per box of 7. The dieter has a choice of two plans, a 1000 cal. or 1200 cal. plan.
an at-home 7-day diet plan for those who don’t live close to a Diet Center. (meal replacements, bars, supplements - $45)
a nutrition plan for women before, during and after menopause.
Program features include…
An "Exclusively Me" behavior management program/activity book was added, wherein dieters learn skills for healthy eating and how to deal with high-risk situations via tapes and workbooks. This one-time fee costs about $30 extra, but may be included as part of the registration fee at some centers.
Slim Within Personal Assessment Program: Introduced in 1995, the program enables the Diet Center Counselor to help clients target specific behaviors associated with obesity. Based on answers to a comprehensive questionnaire, this tool enables the counselor to tailor a weight management program to each client’s personal weight problems.
WomanStyle Nutrition Plan: According to company literature: WomanStyle is the first nutrition and lifestyle intervention program that recognizes and meets the special needs of women age 45 and above. It is a component of the Exclusively You Weight Management Program. The program provides a vehicle through which women can gain control over their increased risk for heart disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis - associated with menopause. WomanStyle also helps women manage physiological changes associated with menopause, including lean tissue loss, decreased metabolic rate and weight gain; digestion problems; blood sugar alterations; and an increase in urinary tract infections.
According to former Medical Director, Ida Laquatra, 27% of all women and 50% of women age 55-74 exhibit risk factors -- including overweight, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure -- that respond to nutrition and lifestyle intervention like WomanStyle provides. WomanStyle caps cholesterol intake at about 70% less than the national recommendation. The program achieves its very low-cholesterol feature by cutting down on animal protein servings, incorporating a protein group of legumes (dry beans, peas and lentils), excluding egg yolks and allowing animal protein from lean source only.
The Success to Go! Kit: Diet Center has formulated its first ever at home system. The kit has everything a client will need to successfully complete 8 weeks of Exclusively You Reducing plus Stabilization and Maintenance, including Diet Center Supplement, vitamins and minerals, Exclusively Me, and a sample of Diet Center food products. The kit may be sold as a separate product by a Diet Center franchisee, or may be sold as a starter kit for clients who purchase the full Diet Center Exclusively You Program.
The parent firm produces private-label, pre-packaged, portion-controlled food items, but franchisees are not required to buy them. Rather, they are provided as a convenience for customers. The line includes more than 100 items. Optional food products include such items as: low-cal salad dressings, seasonings and spices, marinades, light beverage mixes, protein drinks, vitamins and minerals, canned meats, muffin mixes and wheat crackers, dinner entrees, breakfast foods, desserts and snacks, canned soups, etc.
... designed as a transition from the client's previous eating habits and food patterns. This phase introduces the food exchange system and the nutrition pattern that will be followed through the program.
Reducing... lasts as long as clients need to reach a healthy weight. In relation to age, sex, and activity level, caloric intake is monitored. Food selection is based on an exchange system that lists foods in 7 groups: protein, calcium-rich, vegetable, fruit, starch, oil and water/beverage. Within each group, the dieter can choose among a variety of foods similar in nutrient and caloric content.
Sta-b-lite Phase... lasts 6 weeks or longer. This phase is designed to help clients make the critical transition from weight loss to weight maintenance. During this time, clients extend their caloric intake and food choices, while maintaining the healthy weight loss achieved during the reducing phase.
Maintenance... lasts one year. Clients are counseled about food behavior. Both the nutrition knowledge acquired and the food selection and behavior skills developed enable clients to learn how to remain at a healthy weight throughout their lives.
Behavior Modification & Nutrition Education... teaches clients such topics as basic nutrition, food selection and preparation, stress management, goal setting, exercise strategies, and self-image enhancement.
Caloric levels vary for the programs, based on the individual’s body composition analysis. For the Reducing phase, daily caloric intake can range from 1,230 to 2,175 or higher, plus additional calories given at the discretion of the counselor. During the Sta-b-lite and Maintenance phases, caloric content is continually increased.
The one-time registration fee is waived in most cases. BestDietForMe.com analysts have estimated that for a typical 12-week program, the customer would spend about $450-580. A registration fee, usually $130, may be charged or it may be waived entirely. This depends on the franchise you visit, and what specials they may be offering at the time. This registration fee includes a start-up kit with a 30-day supply of vitamins. As for ongoing fees, these usually range from $25-50 per week, and cover the cost of vitamins, supplements, and counseling. You usually have to purchase these services in 4-6 week blocks, paid up front.
Diet Center Online – The Website
Diet Center has developed a very comprehensive website, as an alternative to visiting its centers in person, and at lower cost. As a Member, you receive a complete weight loss program and total support, guidance and information via the Online Information Center.
The company provides the following online…
Weekly weight loss tips, nutritional tips, behavioral tips, and exercise tips
Chat rooms and message boards
A diet store where you can buy supplements, kits, etc.
Information about BMIs and body composition analysis
Slide shows explaining the program, for men and women.
The Diet Center store sells a new line of Thermogenic fat-burning products, entrees, snacks, salad dressings, vitamins, drinks, bars, and audiotapes.
The cost of this online plan?
Diet Center, as a weight loss company, has been in the business a long time. They used to operate a lot more centers, but like other commercial chains they have been hurt by more competition. The plan is basically a sound one, and a wide variety of weight loss products is available, from meal replacements to entrees. The body composition analysis is also a good feature. However, in our opinion the qualifications of the counselors could be better. Two weeks of internal training is not a lot to get counselors up to speed about nutrition, exercise, and psychological issues related to weight loss. We know that the counselors do have access to higher level personnel such as RDs and bariatricians, but sometimes the client would like their questions addressed right there when talking in person. However, since most operations are small, you may be more likely to receive more personal service and time with your counselor—a positive.
The requirement that the client visit the center 3-6 times a week may be a burden for busy working women and others with hectic schedules. This is the old model for commercial weight loss centers that worked in the 1980s and part of the 1990s. The demand today for convenience and anytime access is basically why so many online diet websites have sprung up over the past few years. Simply put, it costs more money to staff and operate a "bricks and mortar" center, so diet companies have to charge you for that.
The cost of the program is on a par with other commercial programs. To their credit, BestDietForMe.com analysts must admit that this website is one of the best you will find in the diet industry, in terms of being user friendly and being rich in features and information. An online locator service finds the Diet Center nearest to you, with a neat mapping service as well. This program cannot serve international dieters living outside the U.S. or Canada at present.
The information on this web site is intended for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Before starting any weight loss program, it is recommended that you consult your physician or other health care professional.
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