Americans like big things, especially food. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA), the average annual food bill for 2009 was $3,929 per capita. Clearly, eating big food leads to big dieting, as the weight loss management industry earns $2 billion a year. Here's a look at how much some of the most popular diet plans cost. (For more, see 5 Ways To Get Healthy And Save Thousands A Year.)

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Nutrisystem,, offers a diverse variety of low-glycemic meals and snacks delivered to your door. Sale prices range from $239.99 to $289.99 per month, depending on whether you are male or female, diabetic, vegetarian or over 65-years old. The price includes free shipping if you allow them to automatically deliver food every 28 days. If you choose to pay month to month, the price increases to $292.27 to $325.60 plus $18.95 for shipping.
You may find discounts through resellers. Costco sells delivery of 35 Nutrisystem meals for $259.99 for women and $299.99 for men.

What you get:

  • Food delivered to your home

Online weight loss community

Online weight loss tools

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Jenny Craig
Jenny Craig,, offers calorie-counting weight loss counseling either at one of their local centers or online, and they supply pre-packaged food delivered to your door. You select your own foods from a menu and the price depends on what you pick.
The monthly prices range from $280 to $680 with customized programs for women, men, diabetics, seniors and teenagers. Clients are encouraged to supplement Jenny Craig meals with your own fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and whole grains. It sounds much more expensive than the competitors, but the company claims to wean clients off Jenny Craig foods once they lose half their targeted amount of weight. At that point, participants must learn to carefully select their own food.

The Jenny Craig website claims participants "spend $1 a day more on Jenny's Cuisine than the typical American spends on food". OK, but that's an extra $365 dollars per year. As previously mentioned, per capita spending on food was $3,929 in 2009, that's an increase in your food bill of about 9%.

What you get:

  • Food delivered to your door

Personalized counseling

Online support

The eDiets website,, offers access to multiple diets in one place. Select from low-glycemic, low sodium, lactose-free and others. Regardless of the type of diet selected, the Fresh Prepared food-delivery plan is available
Fresh Prepared will ship five days worth of self-selected meals for $109.75 ($439 per month) or seven days worth for $139.65 ($558.60 per month) plus shipping. A website promo code offers one free week.

The Biggest Loser Meal Plan by eDiets –, is endorsed by previous contestants from the Biggest Loser reality show. The seven day plan includes 21 meals per week for $153.65 plus shipping. A five-day plan is $119.75 plus shipping. (For a related reading, see Consumer "Fads" That Haven't Faded.)

What you get:

  • Food delivered to your door

Online access to a personal trainer

Online access to a dietitian

Online community

Zone Diet
The Zone Diet,, focuses on moderating the body's hormones to reduce inflammation and promote weight loss.
Two weeks' worth of food (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks) are shipped for $179 plus shipping. In addition, Zone Diets encourages you to supplement meals with your own low-glycemic food.

What you get:

  • Food shipped to your door

Telephone coaching

Online community

Online tools

Atkins Diet
The Atkins Diet, is a high-protein, carb-counting approach to weight loss. Their new book, "The New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Looking Great," by Eric C. Westerman, Stephen D. Phinney, and Jeff S Volek guides you through the program. The list price for the paperback book is $16.
Atkins high-fiber, low-carb bars, shakes, and other foods are available in many grocery stores for $5 to $15. Atkins food is not required to complete the program.

What you get:

  • A book

Optional food you buy on your own

Online tools

South Beach Diet
The South Beach Diet,, is a high protein, low-carb diet. The new book, "The South Beach Diet Supercharged," by Arthur Agatston and Joseph Signorile, is the latest edition to the library of South Beach branded books and cookbooks touting the weight loss program.
The latest paperback book is $7.99. South Beach Diet food is available in grocery stores, but not required. Optional online counseling and fitness training is $5 per week

What you get:

  • A book

Optional food you purchase on your own

Online tools

Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers,, offers a counseling program which involves counting nutrients to achieve the desired intake. There are no required foods. While Weight Watchers does sell its branded food in grocery stores, the program teaches members to select their own food using special counting techniques.
A monthly pass to attend unlimited meetings will run you $39.95 per month, and the online counseling plan costs $47.90 for the first month plus $17.95 for each additional month.

What you get:

  • Counseling sessions

Online tools

Optional food you purchase on your own

The Bottom Line
All the programs offer additional products you could buy, from assessments to books and videos. That could really add up but, when it comes to weight loss, high prices do not necessarily mean better results. Choosing the right diet program involves more than just comparing prices. Other considerations include the quality of the products, customer service, and ultimately, whether or not it can actually work for you.

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