Nutrisystem is a smarter weight-loss program that users enjoy.
- The societal and economic consequences of obesity cannot be ignored.
- The economic impact is up to $190 billion every year in America.
- Americans spend up to $2.5 billion each year on popular weight-loss programs.
Weight loss is big business. Thousands of influencers try to coax you in with brightly colored videos and overproduced photos on Instagram. They guarantee their method works for everybody. Nutrition is too complex for a one-size-fits-all plan, however. We all have different bodies with varying metabolism rates. An individualized program is more beneficial than a cookie-cutter program.
If you've ever tried to lose weight, you know how frustrating it is. We begin a program with enthusiasm and commitment only to trail off in a few weeks. That's the problem with many weight loss programs: they're like filler calories that taste good at first, only to leave you feeling hungry.
Nutrisystem was created in the 1970s by Harold Katz. The entrepreneur was living on a liquid-based diet for weight loss. While this method worked to some degree, Katz realized people want to eat real food. He spent years tweaking his system in order to help people feel sated, enjoy their food, and lose weight.
What Katz realized—what has made Nutrisystem successful in helping people lose weight for nearly five decades—is that people need personalized plans. Nutrisystem is a diet plan service with a variety of pre-packaged, ready-to-eat food, delivered at your door. The menu includes everything from burgers, pizzas and pasta to chocolate desserts and beverages. However, everything is provided following a plan of portion control and healthy eating.
Nutrisystem's Personal Plans provide six small meals a day that are nutritionally balanced for your body. With hundreds of choices designed by expert chefs, variety will never be an issue. And the free weight loss app that accompanies each plan keeps you engaged with your program.
Sure, there are universal principles to weight loss, such as lowering your calorie intake. This is no starvation diet. Finding a diet that both satisfies daily caloric intake and keeps you engaged in a long-term commitment is challenging. This is where Nutrisystem excels.
The economics of obesity
The obesity crisis in America has profoundly changed the health of our nation. Two-thirds of American adults are now overweight or obese. Excess body weight creates numerous health problems, such as increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, cancer, sleep apnea, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Tragically, the steep rise in obesity rates can, in large part, be traced back to the surge in processed foods made with filler ingredients, questionable preservatives, and excessive sugars.
That's part of what makes losing weight so difficult. Supermarket shelves are stocked with processed foods. A whopping 74 percent of packaged foods contain added sugars, which are conveniently disguised under 61 different names, including dextrose, maltose, and treacle. You shouldn't have to play detective every time you go to the grocery store.
Obesity has real-world consequences. Every year, up to $6.38 billion is lost in productivity costs due to obesity-related absenteeism. That number only accounts for people taking off of work. Overall, obesity-related costs in America are estimated to be $147 billion every year. One study shows that cost was $190 billion in 2005.
Overweight citizens are also more likely to suffer from poor mental health. The combination of poor self-image, social stigma, lack of exercise, and biological issues due to obesity increase the likelihood that someone will be anxious or depressed. This creates a crippling feedback loop: diets high in sugars and carbohydrates, which are fueling the rise in obesity, are also linked to poor mental health.
Many people want a solution that works. In 2014, Americans spent roughly $2.5 billion on commercial or proprietary weight loss programs. As a society, we pay the price of obesity in the form of work absenteeism, inflated health care costs, and mental health issues, and we pay trying to solve it. Finding a solution to this problem is of utmost importance.
Losing weight—and keeping it off
Calorie in, calorie out is a simplistic approach to weight loss. We have different metabolism rates; the constitution of our microbiomes vary. Calorie-counting is one method that's nearly guaranteed to fizzle out. This method also overlooks one of the most important aspects of weight loss: food is emotional. Few people stick to diets they don't enjoy.
This is where Nutrisystem comes in. Instead of a false promise of rapid weight loss, the Nutrisystem Personal Plan is designed to help you lose a healthy 1-2 pounds every week while enjoying your favorite foods. More importantly, the weight stays off.
What you won't get in your Nutrisystem deliveries are excess fillers and hidden sugars prevalent in packaged foods. There are no artificial flavors or sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fat, or artificial colorings. You'll never receive deep-fried foods, fatty cut meats, potatoes, full-fat dairy, pasta, or ice cream. Every meal is created by an expert chef and all plans are reviewed by a Science Advisory Board.
If you suffer from type 2 diabetes or are pre-diabetic, Nutrisystem has a plan for you. They also offer a wonderful vegetarian option. Beyond these two plans, Nutrisystem offers four others:
- Nutrisystem Basic. Three pre-planned meals a day plus snacks, designed for customers that want to lose weight and maintain lean muscle.
- Nutrisystem Core. Three meals plus snacks that you choose from over 100 different foods. Customers at this level have access to a certified dietary coach.
- Uniquely Yours. The most popular meal plan lets customers choose from over 160 meals, including frozen meals.
- Uniquely Yours Ultimate. All of the above plus an additional 28 shake options.
Most importantly, all meals are balanced. That means you'll only receive meals that meet national guidelines for total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and added sugars. Once you've hit your target weight, Nutrisystem offers maintenance programs so that you keep it off for good.
The flexibility in Nutrisystem's program makes it even more effective. You'll never feel guilty about "cheat meals"—Nutrisystem offers guidance to eating at restaurants so that you won't have to sacrifice an evening out. By having your meals and snacks delivered, you'll save time in the kitchen. And the Nutrisystem app offers free counseling services, lifestyle hacks, and progress tracking.
Nutrisystem realizes no one loses weight by themselves. By signing up for a Personal Plan, you'll have access to trained weight-loss coaches, registered dietitians, and certified diabetes educators. In 2019, Newsweek ranked Nutrisystem #1 in customer service for nutrition and weight-loss programs. This might be the program you've been looking for.
Research finds that our sense of self can be manipulated by certain smells and sounds.
- Researchers find that there are smells that make us feel thinner and lighter, and other smells that do the opposite.
- The sounds of our footsteps can have a similar effect.
- The researchers suggest that sensory stimuli play a part in our self-image and may be subject to beneficial manipulation.
Who we see in the mirror is more than a matter of lighting or angle. Our self-image is a subjective interpretation of our actual physical characteristics. It's affected by our feelings and by comparisons we draw between ourselves and other people we look to as examples of what we should look like. Often, the person staring back at us in the mirror bears only a passing relationship to what we really look like, and many people struggle with body image issues.
Now it turns out that body image may also be influenced by sensory stimuli. Certain smells and sounds cause us to think of ourselves as lighter and thinner, while others make us feel thicker and heavier.
The research was conducted in 2019, a collaboration between Sussex University's Computer-Human Interaction Lab (SCHI), the University College of London Interaction Centre (UCLIC), and the Universidad Carlos III (UC3M) in Madrid.
Lead researcher Giada Brianza of SCHI presented its findings at the 179th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America last week. She hopes that the researchers' insights can lead to new and more effective multi-sensory methods for helping people overcome negative body-image issues.
Lemon, vanilla, and footsteps
The research involved two different experiments run consecutively.
In one, participants were asked to adjust the dimensions of an onscreen 3D avatar so that it best represented themselves as they were exposed to fragrances. A lemon scent caused the subjects to dial in a lighter body weight. A vanilla odor had the opposite effect.
SCHI lab head Marianna Obrist tells University of Sussex, "Previous research has shown that lemon is associated with thin silhouettes, spiky shapes and high-pitched sounds while vanilla is associated with thick silhouettes, rounded shapes and low-pitched sounds. This could help account for the different body image perceptions when exposed to a range of nasal stimuli."
Regarding the second experiment, UC3M's Ana Tajadura-Jiménez says, "Our previous research has shown how sound can be used to alter body perception. For instance, in a series of studies, we showed how changing the pitch of the footstep sounds people produce when walking can make them feel lighter and happier and also change the way their walk."
The current study's authors had headphone-wearing participants walk in place on a wooden board as the researchers manipulated the sound of of their footsteps in the headphones, making them higher in pitch or lower. While walking, they were presented with lemon and vanilla scents. The psychological effect of the fragrance became even more pronounced when combined with the sound manipulations.
"We based our study on the concept of crossmodal correspondences," Brianza tells Inverse, "which is the spontaneous and unconscious association between different sensory stimulations [like when people see colors when they listen to music]."
Says Obrist, "One of the interesting findings from the research is that sound appears to have a stronger effect on unconscious behavior whilst scent has a stronger effect on conscious behavior. Further studies need to be carried out in order to better understand the potential around sensory and multisensory stimuli on BIP [body image perception]."
What the heck is going on
Brianza says, "Our brain holds several mental models of one's own body appearance which are necessary for successful interactions with the environment." She adds, "These body perceptions are continuously updated in response to sensory inputs received from outside and inside the body."
Considering that what we know of the world—and to an extent, of ourselves—is based on sensory stimuli, perhaps it should not be completely surprising that we may draw unexpected cues from them.
In any event, the researchers' findings offer tantalizing early clues that may bear therapeutic fruit when it comes to addressing body issues later on. Will it turn out, for example, that scented garments can help us make kinder, more accurate fitting decisions in olfactorily and sonically optimized dressing rooms?
Says Brianza, "Being able to positively influence this perception through technology could lead to novel and more effective therapies for people with body perception disorders or the development of interactive clothes and wearable technology that could use scent to enhance people's self-confidence and recalibrate distorted feelings of body weight."
The human body is endlessly fascinating.
- Last year, it was reported that a Belgian man arrested for drunk driving brewed the alcohol in his own gut.
- The disorder, auto-brewery syndrome, occurred after he took a round of antibiotics.
- He was cured after a fecal donation from his daughter.
Nearly a year ago, headlines across the web were dominated by a 46-year-old man that brewed his own beer. His artisanal approach was quite unique: his stomach fermented its own contents thanks to a rare disorder known as auto-brewery syndrome (ABS).
You can imagine his surprise when police pulled him over for erratic driving and found he was over double the legal alcohol limit. He hadn't had a drink all night. The fermenting bacteria produced ethanol in his gut, causing him to appear drunk. It's a terrible condition.
The syndrome was caused by a round of antibiotics. After experiencing these symptoms for two months, he needed help. Trusting a medical team's advice, he tried a burgeoning intervention for microbiome trouble: he received a poop transplant.
As with any form of transplant, there are risks. Most people need to match their blood donor. Organ transplants are tricky and result in long waiting lists. Getting someone else's fecal matter comes with its own potentially damaging side effects.
Fortunately it worked out, as the team behind the transplant writes in Annals of Internal Medicine. Based at Belgium's University Hospital Ghent, the team reports "what we believe is the first successful treatment of a patient with chronic gut fermentation syndrome by using fecal microbiota transplantation."
The man received the sample from his 22-year-old daughter. His blood ethanol levels, which were 17 times above normal, have returned to pre-syndrome levels. He even gets buzzed on beer now, at least when he chooses.
What is Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT)?
Fecal transplants, or bacteriotherapy, help replenish bacterial balance, especially when antibiotics kill too many "good" bacteria. The procedure is most often performed by colonoscopy, though sometimes a nasoduodenal tube is required. While there are a variety of tests needed before doctors will perform bacteriotherapy, fecal transplants actually date back at least 1,700 years to Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Fecal transplants are most commonly performed to treat diseases caused by the bacteria, C. difficile. Over 15,000 people die every year from such diseases.
Researchers are constantly learning more about the incredible complexity and importance of the microbiome. Besides gut-related disorders, bacteriotherapy may soon be used to treat a variety of ailments, including obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, hay fever, and eczema.
The doctors feel confident recommending this particular intervention. Treating ABS often involves changes in diet, probiotics, and drug therapy. Yet antibiotics have strange effects on the microbiome, and in this case, it was enough to make him resistant to the usual therapies.
The team in Belgium is hopeful they've found another avenue for treating ABS.
"Moreover, we can imagine a future point - after additional research to evaluate the safety of faecal microbiota transplantation - at which this approach might become standard therapy for gut fermentation syndrome."
Is focusing solely on body mass index the best way for doctor to frame obesity?
- New guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal argue that obesity should be defined as a condition that involves high body mass index along with a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
- The guidelines note that classifying obesity by body mass index alone may lead to fat shaming or non-optimal treatments.
- The guidelines offer five steps for reframing the way doctors treat obesity.
Doctors determine obesity by dividing a patient's weight by their height, producing a measure called body mass index, or BMI. Patients with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese.
But is this the best way to frame obesity?
In new guidelines published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a group of doctors argue that, while knowing a patient's body mass index is useful, healthcare professionals should take a more holistic approach to treating obesity — one that doesn't overfocus on weight-loss through exercise and diet.
The authors say this new model could improve treatments and reduce weight stigma. After all, the old model typically frames obesity as a "self-inflicted condition" caused by a lack of personal responsibility, which may affect "the type of interventions and approaches that are implemented by governments or covered by health benefit plans."
"For the longest time, we blamed our patients, we blamed people living with obesity for the lack of willpower in terms of overeating, in terms of not being physically active," co-author Dr. David C.W. Lau of the University of Calgary's Julia MacFarlane Diabetes Research Centre, said in a podcast. "We now know this is a totally misperceived perception."
The new guidelines define obesity as "a prevalent, complex, progressive, and relapsing chronic disease, characterized by abnormal or excessive body fat (adiposity) that impairs health." Under this definition, someone would only be considered obese if they have a high body-mass index and a corresponding physical or mental health condition.
#Obesity management should focus on outcomes that patients consider to be important, not #weightloss alone, and inc… https://t.co/Qy3c9cisl0— CMAJ (@CMAJ)1596566367.0
The guidelines aren't arguing that weight isn't relevant to health. After all, there's no shortage of research showing that having a high body mass and excess body fat boosts your risks of developing many conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, respiratory problems and even certain cancers.
But one key complication is that obesity is caused by many factors. For example, the guidelines note that the condition is influenced by genetics, epigenetics, neurohormonal mechanisms, associated chronic diseases and obesogenic medications, sociocultural practices and beliefs, social determinants of health, built environment, individual life experiences like adverse childhood experiences, and a host of psychological factors.
As such, a straightforward "eat-less, move more" strategy might not work equally for everyone. The guidelines note that "obesity management should be about improved health and well-being, and not just weight loss."
A new 5-step system for treating obesity
To help primary care practitioners better treat obesity, the doctors outlined five steps:
- Recognition of obesity as a chronic disease by health care providers, who should ask the patient permission to offer advice and help treat this disease in an unbiased manner.
- Assessment of an individual living with obesity, using appropriate measurements, and identifying the root causes, complications and barriers to obesity treatment.
- Discussion of the core treatment options (medical nutrition therapy and physical activity) and adjunctive therapies that may be required, including psychological, pharmacologic and surgical interventions.
- Agreement with the person living with obesity regarding goals of therapy, focusing mainly on the value that the person derives from health-based interventions.
- Engagement by health care providers with the person with obesity in continued follow-up and reassessments, and encouragement of advocacy to improve care for this chronic disease.
Insider noted that some health professionals and body-positive advocates don't think the guidelines go far enough in reframing obesity treatment. The update still points "to individual bodies as the problem, not culture," registered dietitian Rebecca Scritchfield, told Insider.
But it's also possible to see how some health professionals may worry this new model could discourage patients from taking the initiative to tackle weight-loss on their own, through exercise and dieting.
In a 2020 opinion piece published in Frontiers in Nutrition, Dr. Elliot M. Berry argued that misplaced "medical and political correctness" may lead to the abrogation of the physician's responsibility to properly care for patients.
"For example, some doctors are now even reluctant to raise the issue of obesity lest they be accused of fat shaming by not accepting their patients' proportions (despite the quote at the head of this opinion piece), and thereby receive poor approval ratings in an atmosphere where popularity is equated with good healthcare."
Berry offers a list of nine steps that he thinks could help the healthcare industry better treat obesity, without shaming patients or falling prey to political correctness.
Berry concludes his piece:
"Parental and individual responsibility, choice and self-management clearly have a place near the center of the stage in the obesity tragedy. Otherwise, it is like going to see the play Hamlet and the Prince fails to make an appearance."
The study was only conducted with already healthy men, however.
- A new study at the University of Bath found that binge eating on occasion doesn't have major metabolic consequences.
- 14 healthy young men were instructed to eat pizza until full or to keep going until they couldn't eat another bite.
- Their blood sugar levels were similar to having eaten normally and blood lipids levels were only slightly higher than normal.
The eternal diet dilemma: to have a cheat day or to never indulge?
Researchers at the Centre for Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism at the University of Bath wanted to understand the effects of overeating, given the prevalence of obesity in the Western world. They asked 14 men to eat pizza—or, as they wonderfully phrased it, a "homogenous mixed-macronutrient meal." Some of the volunteers ate a lot of pizza.
That was the point. The men, all between the ages of 22 and 37, were either told to eat until full or to keep going until they couldn't possibly eat another bite. The results of this study were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Despite some men eating up to two-and-a-half pizzas in one sitting (roughly 5,000 calories), their metabolism didn't change much. Their blood sugar levels were similar to having eaten a normal meal; their blood lipids levels were only slightly higher. All of this was a surprise to the researchers.
Not that all went swimmingly. Blood insulin was 50 percent higher and the signaling hormones that scream "hey, stop eating," were altered. Waist circumference and sagittal abdominal diameter increased in the overeating group, though for how long is not known.
The researchers noticed that, despite the prevalence of obesity, "no study has ever examined the metabolic response to eating beyond feeling comfortably full in a single eating occasion." They pulled from a few studies that detail the effects of overeating, yet those focus on weight gain, not metabolic changes.
Marion Nestle: Why Do We Overeat?
Lead researcher Aaron Hengist says the results showed the resilience of our body during times of excess.
"Our findings show that the body actually copes remarkably well when faced with a massive and sudden calorie excess. Healthy humans can eat twice as much as 'full' and deal effectively with this huge initial energy surplus."
Of course, these were all young, healthy men, which will skew the outcome. Still, they expected more of a metabolic impact.
The researchers also focused on mood. Four hours after eating maximally, overeaters had no desire to eat sweet foods. This contradicts previous research that shows the brain's reward centers are food-specific—pizza shouldn't change cravings for sweets. The overeating groups also felt lethargic after their binge, which is to be expected.
The researchers are not giving a pass for overeating. Caloric intake remains the main driver of obesity. Signaling hormones are altered with continued overeating, making it difficult for the obese to know when to stop. Regular overeating changes body composition, metabolic rates, and mood.
In the past, humans had to stock up on food when they found it while hunting and foraging. We are equipped to handle the occasional caloric overload. James Betts, who was also involved in the study, says that an occasional binge for healthy people is not necessarily a bad thing.
"This study shows that if an otherwise healthy person overindulges occasionally, for example eating a large buffet meal or Christmas lunch, then there are no immediate negative consequences in terms of losing metabolic control."
Acknowledging the study's limitations of age, health, and gender of participants, the researchers are planning on investigating the metabolic and mood effects of operating on women, obese volunteers, and the elderly.