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Mind and Body

Is Jenny Craig the Best Weight-Loss Plan?

The weather is getting warmer, the sun is shining longer, and soon summer will be here. For many dieters, this can only mean one thing—swimsuit season is about to rear its ugly head.

So if you need to lose a few pounds before you put on that bikini or pair of board shorts, the latest edition of Consumer Reports has the skinny on the top seven diets. They included Weight Watchers, The Zone, Slim Fast, and Atkins to name a few. But which one came out on top—and is it really the best choice?

According to the report, the winner was the Jenny Craig weight-loss program by a long shot. The pre-packaged diet food based plan scored 22 points higher than any other diet tested, but New York City registered dietician Cynthia Sass told FoxNews.com that the plan has less pros than cons.

“Consumer Reports only looked at seven plans. There are many other weight loss strategies out there,” Sass said.

With current trends leaning towards fresh, healthy and organic eating — pre-packaged diet plans go in the opposite direction, with most preparation happening in the microwave.

“People who are trying to avoid processed and packaged foods and eat more fresh, clean foods–being able to choose from only pre-packaged options isn’t ideal,” said Sass, author of Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.

Entertaining or trying to dine out can also be difficult on a pre-packaged food plan, which is the main reason why so many people stray from them, according to Sass. Another factor to consider is how satisfying these meals really are.

“When thoughts of food linger, it can an increase the chances of falling off the wagon. I’ve had clients spend a great deal of money on plans that deliver pre-packaged meals and they either eat them, but eat more food in addition to the meals because they weren’t satisfied (which led to no results), or forgo the meals because they just weren’t appealing,” she said.

The main complaint from those who order pre-packaged foods? It doesn’t teach you how to eat on your own.

“They don’t provide a concrete strategy that you can apply when you’re at a party, on vacation or out to dinner. In my experience this is why they don’t work long-term. You can’t go through life eating these pre-packaged meals,” Sass said.

For those who don’t want to think about any of the logistics or planning that go along with dieting, Jenny Craig does have some benefits.

“When you don’t have to decide what or how much to eat because those decisions have already been made for you, it’s like a short-cut that can make it easier to follow through,” Sass added.

Consumer Reports based their results on nutritional data from each plan combined with weight-loss studies about them. One of the studies included was from 2010 that found after 2 years on Jenny Craig, 332 dieters weighed 8 percent less and 92 percent were still on the program.

Last year, Americans spent an estimated $46 billion on diet products, according to Forbes.com.