Type of Counseling: over the Internet or via call center, or by physicians, nurses, nutritionists, or company counselors
Typical Cost: $500* for average do-it-yourself customer, higher for medically supervised program ($300 for first month), involving MD exams, lab tests, etc.
Type Program: medical low calorie meal replacement or non-medical do-it-yourself plan
Type of Foods Used: company meal replacements plus grocery store food
At-Home or Direct Mail Plan Available? Yes
* The cost is about $300/month and most customers stay on the plan one month. The total cost depends on the amount of weight one has to lose. Most Medifast® clients don't go through an MD and buy the products directly via phone or the website. A 16-week medical program would cost more than $1,000.
Medifast® (subsidiary: Jason Pharmaceuticals, Inc.)
11445 Cronhill Drive
Owings Mills, MD 21117
410-581-8042 or 1-866-463-3432
Take Shape For Life subsidiary: 1-800-572-4417
Summary & History
Medifast® has been around since 1981, operating previously only within the medically supervised Low Calorie Meal Replacement fasting segment of the weight loss industry. It ranks among the top modified fasting vendors such as HMR and Optifast®, in terms of the number of physicians, clinics, and other healthcare sites, and number of people using this type of program.
Medifast® is a leader in soy-based medical meal replacement products used by customers and medical practitioners for over 20 years. With over 1 million patients and 15,000 doctors previously working with its products, this program has been pre-sold to much of the consumer base. The main end-users of the Medifast® program are consumers and some clinics and hospitals. This is a liquid supplement modified fasting program for the treatment of obesity. Many items are Kosher certified.
Medifast® is no longer primarily a medically supervised weight loss program. Most customers now buy Medifast® products directly from the company, with no medical supervision required. Yes, it still does offer the medical option, but claims that only 10% of its current customers fall into this category. The company is not as much of a "diet food" company as Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers or NutriSystem. These companies derive most of their revenues from the sale of full meals--breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees, and have more extensive product lines with more "real food" items. Rather, Medifast® is primarily a meal replacement company, that has a few solid food items such as chili, oatmeal, and now, scrambled eggs. But, you will not find dinner items such as pasta, chicken, beef, etc.
The company is trying to make the transition to a full diet food product line consumer oriented company, but is not quite there yet. Consequently, it's a much smaller operation than Jenny, Weight Watchers or NutriSystem, in terms of sales. However, this is not to say it's products and program are not as good or effective.
One can access the via:
1) at home by phone or the Web,
2) Take Shape for Life health advisors, or
3) a healthcare professional's office (physician, dietitian, etc.).
For those dieters living outside the United States, Medifast®services are available in Asia (India, Hong Kong, Singapore) via the Dr. Diet plan.
The Nutrition Institute of Maryland was founded in 1972. William J. Vitale, M.D. served as its Medical Director of Clinical Services since 1974. In 1976, the company is said to have instituted the first Protein Sparing Fasting Program in the Mid-Atlantic states, and in 1977 the Institute was among the pioneers to implement Defined Formula Supplemented Fasting programs in the private sector. Those programs were derived from research at Case Western Reserve and the Mt. Sinai Medical Center of Cleveland. It soon became known as the Medifast® program.
During the past several years, Medifast®has brought in new management and became a public company, giving it access to capital that allowed it to expand beyond doctor’s offices to the general public. Consequently, it began marketing directly to the public and doing a lot more advertising and marketing, to increase awareness of its name. The company has also introduced many new products in the past two years, and now has over 50items to choose from (including the supplements, nutrition bars, teas, soups, chili, hot cocoa, pudding, scrambled eggs, snacks, oatmeal and meal replacement shakes).
The company recently expanded its health and wellness spectrum to include disease management products and healthcare accessories. In 2004, Medifast®launched Medifast® Plus for Women’s Health and Medifast® Plus for Joint Health, in addition to Medifast® Plus for Diabetics.
In 2002, Medifast®, through its "Take Shape For Life, Inc." subsidiary, established a "Health Institute" to create a "virtual clinic", under the direction of Dr. Joseph DiBartolomeo (formerly a 20-year veteran of Nutri/System).
Medifast®, Inc. a leading portion-controlled weight loss program, announced the launch of its new product line Momentum by Medifast®, the first product line in the weight loss industry designed specifically to induce thermogenesis.
Momentum by Medifast® is designed to burn extra calories, boost metabolism and decrease appetite, and has been clinically shown to have the maximum effect in inducing thermogenesis, making it ideal for clients in a weight loss plateau or the weight maintenance phase of the Medifast® program.
Momentum by Medifast® products contain 100 milligrams of caffeine and 90 milligrams of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a potent antioxidant found in green tea. The combination of caffeine and EGCG found in three Momentum products has been clinically shown to increase the body's metabolic rate above normal, which can result in burning extra calories.
Medifast® clients can use any combination of Momentum by Medifast® meal replacements and Flavor Infusers three times a day to produce the desired effects of thermogenesis.
Types of Programs Available
The company basically has four distribution channels to offer its services to dieters:
Take Shape For Life… a subsidiary that provides "virtual clinics". These clinics are implemented by 3,200 health "advisors", who recruit entrants and provide them with counseling, support and product samples. This is a direct sales organization.
Medically supervised Medifast® Weight Control Centers, 20 sites. (California, Dallas, Houston, Maryland , Orlando)
Products used include:
Medifast® 70 shakes…
Medifast® 55 shakes…
Additional meal replacement products include: bars, soups, chili, oatmeal, pudding, cappuccino, fortified drinks, and tea.
You do have to supplement Medifast® foods with lean protein, salad and vegetables that you buy on your own.
Medifast® Plan Options
5 & 1 Meal Replacement Plan (Medifast® 55, 70 or Plus)
Requires five Medifast®supplements a day plus a daily meal consisting of a serving of lean meat and a green salad (which you supply).
Complete Meal Replacement (Medifast® 55 or 70)
Requires five Medifast®supplements a day, no regular food. Recommended if you have a lot of weight to lose or you prefer to avoid all food choices. Must be done under a doctor's supervision.
It is recommended, as with all weight loss programs, that you see your doctor for a general exam and blood test panel before you begin the program. In addition, lab tests should include a CBC, chemistry panel, lipid profile, thyroid panel, and urinalysis. If you are over age 40 or have a history of heart disease, you should have an EKG done as well. Follow-up visits with your physician should be done from once a month to once every three months.
With the Medifast® Women's 5 &1 program, it's claimed that you can lose 20 lbs. in 30 days. You eat every 2-3 hours.
Basic steps of the program, if one uses the Medifast®medically supervised approach, include:
Do It Yourself Non-medical Plan
As noted above, most Medifast®customers don't use the more structured medical plan, but a do-it-yourself plan that uses meal replacement products. In this case, the "typical" cost per client is about $11/day or $299.50 when you buy the variety packages. The 28-day 4-week Variety Package for $275 (free shipping, free shaker jar plus 3 bonus meals) includes 49 shakes, 21 oatmeals, 28 soups, 7 banana puddings, and 7 cappuccinos. There is also a "bill me later" plan available, with payments as low as $10 per month.
VIP membership orders of $200 or more get free standard shipping anywhere in the U.S.
Currently, the company offers one free week of food with your order of a 4-week supply.
Estimated costs of the Medifast®medically supervised program are broken down as follows below (will vary by physician and region of the U.S.). Some of these fees are charged by your physician--only the supplement is purchased from Medifast®
Online Tools - The Medifast® Website
In July 2006, Medifast® launched a new website: www.MyMedifast.com, an online community that provides customized weight loss tools to help people successfully lose weight. MyMedifast offers users an interactive community where dieters can seek support by participating in a wide variety of interfaces including joining regularly scheduled chats about nutrition, dieting and exercising, or posting motivational messages on message boards.
One of the most significant features on the MyMedifast website is the customized Meal Planner. This feature provides a database with thousands of food items and their nutritional profiles to give users all of the necessary information to make healthy food choices. This section of the site also allows the user to log their weight, measurements and exercise on a daily basis. The website calculates this information and delivers a report to the user, showing if they are meeting their goals.
Users can run reports and see snapshots such as a daily nutrition score that highlights totals for calories, fat, sugar, proteins, carbohydrates etc. The website also offers users the option of receiving daily and weekly tips and articles.
The MyMedifast website features healthy recipes, tips for dining out and various channels that provide additional resources to help dieters stay on track with their weight loss goals, including the following:
- Blogs and message boards
- Eat right channel (dining out tool, food locator, healthy recipes)
- Exercise smart channel
- Feel good channel (motivational tips)
Research Findings of the Medifast®Program
In November 2003, Medifast®announced preliminary results of a 2-year study conducted by Johns Hopkins University. The purpose of the study was to examine the health effects of weight reduction for overweight and obese Type 2 diabetics. The Johns Hopkins study concluded that:
Patients on the Medifast®
Patients on the Medifast®
Patients following the American Diabetes Association dietary guidelines didn’t lose as much weight, were slower to lose weight and didn’t reduce or eliminate as much medication during the study.
BestDietForMe.com analysts know that this organization has been around a long time, operating a very good program, until 2000 exclusively through medical professionals. The company wants to grow. It is no longer content to serve just those dieters with serious obesity and medical issues. And, it no longer wants to serve the United States market only. So far, this expansion seems to be a good thing, in that it offers a virtual clinic, is developing more products, and has added services appealing to other women’s’ health issues, and adolescents as well. In addition, you can reach the company’s staff by phone or the Internet. The Take Shape For Life program seems to be a hit. The one thing we wonder about is just how good the company’s 3,200 "advisors" or counselors are—the ones that are not physicians. The customer should ask some questions to see if they are up to par, vis-à-vis other weight loss programs.
The information on this web site is intended for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Before starting a weight loss program, it is recommended that you consult your physician or health care professional.
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