Jenny Craig closes after 40 years: Nutritionists are 'not surprised,' but some customers say they're 'heartbroken and sad'
The end of the Jenny Craig era coincides with the rise of weight-loss injectables like Ozempic and Wegovy.
Iconic weight-loss brand Jenny Craig made a surprising announcement in late April: It's closing its business after being in operation since 1983. The brand's original announcement indicated that Jenny Craig would transition to an e-commerce model, according to a company email obtained by NBC News. However, in early May the company announced it had shut down entirely.
"It's with a heavy heart, we're announcing the close of our business," reads a message on the Jenny Craig website. "The last 40 years would not have been possible without you." The message — which is the only thing left on the website, aside from a photo of a smiling woman — also says that all auto-delivery subscriptions have been canceled and the company's coaching sessions, food orders and merchandise sales "have ceased online and in corporate centers."
The end of the Jenny Craig era coincides with the rise of weight-loss injectables like Ozempic and Wegovy. There has also been strong messaging from the nutrition community for years that the best way to lose weight is to make healthier choices with whole foods — not to rely on processed, packaged products like Jenny Craig was known for, nutritionist Jessica Cording, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers, tells Yahoo Life. (The company also offered personalized counseling for followers in its stores.)
"The weight-loss industry has grown, evolved and changed so much that I'm not surprised that some of the companies that have been around a lot longer are closing," nutritionist Vanessa Rissetto, chief executive officer and co-founder of Culina Health, tells Yahoo Life. "This is in line with market conditions — people are looking for more virtual solutions and with the uptick of injectables, one-on-one support is going to have to happen through the computer,"
Keri Gans, a New York City-based nutritionist and the author of The Small Change Diet, also tells Yahoo Life that she's "not surprised" by the move. "There has been a shift away from diet culture, and I don’t think Jenny Craig made any changes that were more in line with that movement," she says. "I also think that in-person brick and mortar weight-loss centers have been losing popularity with the rise and ease of e-commerce."
Cording notes that she has never had a patient be successful with losing weight on Jenny Craig and maintaining that weight loss, adding, "I've been in this field almost 15 years." Rissetto and Gans also say they don't have patients who have had success with the diet.
But Jenny Craig was wildly popular for a while, and it even had famous spokeswomen like Valerie Bertinelli and Kirstie Alley. While the diet has had its critics, some women have had weight-loss success with it.
One of those is Mackenzie Scaccetti, who joined Jenny Craig in June 2021. She tells Yahoo Life that she feels "heartbroken and sad" by the brand going under. "The program really changed my life for the better and has allowed me to get my health and weight under control and be a better mom for my son," she says. "I am thankful for my experience with Jenny Craig, and I’m thankful for the tools they have given me to be able to continue this lifestyle."
Scaccetti says she saw a lot of success with the brand quickly, which is why she continued on the program until she hit her goal weight last year. "Since hitting my goal weight, I have used their meals because they were super easy and convenient, and I genuinely loved the foods," she says.
Shakera Halford tells Yahoo Life that she tried Jenny Craig in 2021 when she started working for the company. "It worked just OK for me," she says. Halford says she had a hunch that the company wouldn't last. "The cost of the food, the lack of client retention and not getting in new clients ... I knew it was a matter of time before the stores would be closing," she says.
Sarah Hubbard has used Jenny Craig twice — and was a Jenny Craig member up until the brand closed. "The first time was in the mid-'90s — I lost more than 80 pounds," she tells Yahoo Life. Hubbard gained the weight back during her pregnancy with her twin sons and had a series of health complications, including a diabetes diagnosis and rare chronic pain disease, which she says made it challenging to lose the weight.
She decided to try Jenny Craig again in July 2022. "I have lost more than 75 pounds despite all my new limitations — medications, limited mobility and age," says Hubbard, who is 52. "My doctors, family and friends were supportive." Hubbard says she's been "very happy" with the brand, as well as consultants she's seen, noting that her blood sugar, kidney function and cholesterol have improved on the diet.
"They should have warned us this was a possibility so that we could have prepared better," she says. "Not just — bam, it's done." Hubbard says she's still 20 pounds away from her goal weight and is trying to get more food from the brand before her local store closes.
While Scaccetti will miss the convenience of Jenny Craig meals, she says she always intended to cook more for her whole family — and, with Jenny Craig closing, she'll do just that. "With the news, I will be trying to get back in the kitchen some more," she says. "I feel a lot more confident than I did before joining Jenny picking out recipes that have the healthy nutrition I need versus just picking something that looked really good but may have not been nutritionally good for me."
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