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La Weight Loss Program

Definition

The LA Weight Loss program is a diet plan based around weight loss centers. The centers offer counseling, personalized weight loss planning, and exercise guidelines.

Origins

The LA Weight Loss Centers company was founded by Vahan Karian in 1989. It was founded as a privately held company and remains so today. The company grew very quickly; in 1994 there were 18 LA Weight Loss Centers and by 2006 there were more than 800. It claims to be one of the fastest growing weight management companies in the world. The company is headquartered in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

Description

LA Weight Loss Centers can be found throughout the United States, with locations in every state except Alaska. They also have centers in Canada, Australia, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica. These centers are the basis for the LA Weight Loss program. The centers provide personal one-on-one counseling and work with dieters to develop personalized meal plans and customized exercise guidelines. Counselors at the centers also provide emotional and motivational support.

The LA Weight Loss program involves helping dieters learn to use regular foods, available at their normal supermarket, to create healthy meals. Dieters have the option of purchasing special LA Weight Loss foods, but the company says this is not a necessary part of the program. Counselors at the LA Weight Loss Centers teach dieters about nutrition and how to eat a balanced diet. Dieters are also taught how to eat healthy nutritious foods, even when eating at their favorite restaurants. Counselors also help to develop an exercise program for each individual dieter.

The first step to the LA Weight Loss plan is an individual meeting with one of the counselors at an LA Weight Loss Center. In that meeting dieters determine their current health status and their weight loss goals. Together with a counselor, they also then build a plan for attaining those goals. After the initial meeting, dieters can call anytime they need encouragement or want to setup another meeting to review their progress.

In addition to the weight loss centers, the company offers an online version of their weight loss plan called “LA at Home.” The online version is based on the same principles as the center-based plan. Dieters can receive online counseling that will design a personalized weight loss plan and provide ongoing support. Online tools are available to help with meal planning, choosing restaurants, ordering foods, and also allow dieters to track their progress. Dieters who join the online program can also submit their favorite recipes to the “LA Chef” and receive instructions on how to create a healthier version of their favorite foods. Through the website, dieters can also purchase LA Weight Loss food products.

One of the hallmarks of the LA Weight Loss Program has been celebrity endorsements. In television and print commercials, as well as through their website and other promotional materials, celebrities have partnered with the company and promoted its message. The list of celebrities to do this includes actress Whoopi Goldberg, actor Steve Harvey, Philadelphia Eagles Coach Andy Reid, Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka, as well as former NFL greats Ron Jaworski, Jim Kelly, Joe Greene, Ed Jones, and Dan Dierdorf.

Separate from their regular weight loss plan, LA Weight Loss Centers offer “The Man Plan.” Unlike most diet plans, which tend to cater to women, this plan is aimed at men. Marketing materials for the plan

KEY TERMS

Dietary supplement—A product, such as a vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or enzyme, that is intended to be consumed in addition to an individual’s diet with the expectation that it will improve health.

Mineral—An inorganic substance found in the earth that is necessary in small quantities for the body to maintain a health. Examples: zinc, copper, iron.

Vitamin—A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to remain healthybut that the body cannot manufacture for itself and must acquire through diet.

feature famous sports figures who say they’ve lost weight using the plan. It is intended to satisfy a larger appetite using foods like pizza, hot dogs, and potatoes. Men can use the plan by going into one of the LA Weight Loss Centers or by joining online. Like the regular plan, it uses one-on-one counseling to design a personalized weight loss strategy. Also like the regular plan, “The Man Plan” allows dieters to eat at restaurants and prepare meals using foods available at the supermarket.

Legal troubles

LA Weight Loss Centers, Inc. has been involved in several legal disputes. In 2002, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer reached a settlement with the company over allegations that they made false claims about the cost of their weight loss program, were slow to issue refunds, and had not posted the bond required from health club service providers. The company was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $100,000, issue refunds to New York State customers who did not receive them, post a $275,000 bond, and cease misrepresenting the true cost of the program. In 2005, Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna reached a settlement with the company over similar allegations. In that case, LA Weight Loss Centers were required to pay up to $800,000 in reimbursements to Washington customers and a separate fine to be used for consumer education. In neither case did the company admit any wrong doing.

Function

LA Weight Loss Centers are intended to provide a source of support and guidance to those who want to lose weight and maintain good health. They are designed to provide one-on-one support for dieters, as well as help dieters design diet and exercise plans tailored to their specific needs and lifestyle.

Benefits

There are many benefits to losing weight, being more healthy, and being more fit. The benefits of weight loss can be very significant, as many diseases and disorders, such as diabetes, are associated with being obese. The more overweight a person is, generally the greater their risk is for getting these diseases. Weight loss, if achieved at a moderate pace through a healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce the risk of these and other obesity-related diseases. Increased exercise can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and can improve overall health.

The LA Weight Loss Center’s program may have additional benefits for some people. Because the program is designed around the dieter meeting one-on-one with counselors, this may help some people stay on track to achieve their desired weight loss goals. This also means that counselors may be able to help the dieter design diet and exercise plans that center around the dieter’s favorite foods or activities, or are designed to be able to fit into the dieter’s busy schedule.

Precautions

Anyone thinking of beginning a new diet or exercise program should consult a doctor or other medical practitioner. Requirements of calories, fat, and nutrients can differ from person to person, depending on gender, age, weight, and many other factors such as the presence of any disease or conditions. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should be especially cautious because they may need increased amounts of vitamins and minerals, and deficiencies can be harmful for a baby. Exercising too strenuously or beginning a rigorous exercise program too suddenly can lead to an increased risk of injury. Dieters should be advised that consultants for LA Weight Loss are not required to have certifications in personal fitness or nutrition. This means that dieters may want to consult other sources in addition to their counselors.

Risks

With any diet and exercise plan there are some risks. It can be difficult for a dieter to get enough vitamins and minerals when eating a limited diet. Anyone beginning a diet may want to consult their physician about whether taking a vitamin or supplement might help them reduce this risk. Supplements have

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE DOCTOR

  • Is this diet the best diet to meet my goals?
  • At what level of intensity is it appropriate for me to begin exercising?
  • Does diet or exercise pose any special risk for me that I should be aware of?
  • Would a multivitamin or other dietary supplement be appropriate for me if I were to begin this diet?
  • Is this diet appropriate for my entire family?
  • Is it safe for me to follow this diet over a long period of time?
  • Are there any sign or symptoms that might indicate a problem while on this diet?

their own risks and possibilities of side effects. Following proper warm up and cool down procedures can help to minimize the risk of injury during exercise. It may be recommended that a dieter begin with light or moderate exercise and slowly increase the intensity of the exercise over weeks or months.

Research and general acceptance

There have been no scientific studies of the methods promoted by LA Weight Loss Centers. Their food products have not been proven to help dieters lose weight or live a more-healthy lifestyle. Because each dieter’s diet will be different it is difficult to say if the LA Weight Loss program will provide what is generally recognized as a healthy, well balanced diet. The United States Department of Agriculture provides food guidelines in its MyPyramid, the updated version of the food guide pyramid. Generally, for healthy adults, any diet program that is healthy should follow these guidelines. They can be found online at <http://www.mypyramid.gov>

The LA Weight Loss plan is generally expected to include some form of exercise plan. In 2007 the Centers for Disease Control recommended that healthy adults get at least 30 minutes a day of light to moderate exercise. Because each dieter will have a personalized plan it is not possible to determine if this minimum recommendation will be met. Exercise is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle and has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that weight loss is achieved more effectively through programs that combine diet and exercise than programs that focus on just one aspect alone.

BOOKS

Shannon, Joyce Brennfleck ed. Diet and Nutrition Source-book Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2006.

Willis, Alicia P. ed. Diet Therapy Research Trends New York: Nova Science, 2007.

PERIODICALS

Tsai, Adam Gilden and Thomas A. Wadden. “Systematic Review: An Evaluation of Major Commercial Weight Loss Programs in the United States.” Annals of Internal Medicine (4 January 2005): V142 56-66.

ORGANIZATIONS

American Dietetic Association. 120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000, Chicago, Illinois 60606-6995. Telephone: (800) 877-1600. Website: <http://www.eatright.org>

OTHER

LA Weight Loss Centers 2007. <http://www.laweightloss.com> (April 14, 2007). Wender, Samantha. “Welcome to LA Weight Loss.” ABC.

News Online 16 Feb 2007. <http://abcnews.go.com/>

(February 16, 2007).

Helen Davidson.


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