Despite the blaring headlines, the madcap rush to the top and the frenzied race to the IPO starting gate, not everything on the Internet is focused on growth and gain. In fact, one Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based company is making its name promoting loss. Weight loss, that is.
eDiets.com has announced that it is unveiling a personalized diet program called “My eDiets,” designed to provide its members with a daily interactive service that helps with weight loss goals. A mega-business in the cinder block world, weight loss clinics can offer the same services online and do it on a daily basis, according to eDiets.com.
Founded in 1996, the company has a staff of dieticians and psychologists who take registration information furnished by each new member, and tailor a diet program suited to individual needs and goals. The resulting plan is then inserted into a template, on a personalized “My eDiets” page. That page, the company says, is accessible daily and can be set up as a personal home page. It is password-protected as well.
Industry on the Rise
eDiets.com claims to have over 350,000 subscribers to their newsletter, eDiets News. Their Web site is set up with sections for both women and men, with feature stories, a free diet assessment, and links to the site’s store. There, they sell fitness equipment, body fat calipers, electronic calorie counters and a range of vitamins and minerals.
The company is not the only one providing weight loss plans over the Web. A “weight loss” search turns up over 10,000 links, some of them informational, many more touting products and programs that are as widely disparate as the caloric difference between a soy burger and a bacon cheeseburger. The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar a year business in the United States, and all estimates show that it is on the increase.
According to a PBS Frontline documentary, some 91 million Americans are considered obese — 20% above their ideal body weight. Despite a virtual sea of information available about nutrition, Americans seem to be eating more of what’s not good for them, and then going to Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, two of the industry’s biggest companies, to try to lose the weight.
Consumer advocates are pushing for stricter guidelines on what claims those companies can make about how much weight a customer can lose, but industry executives say that the results are so varied as to make it impossible to write one-size-fits-all guidelines.
Over 50,000 Members
eDiet.com Chairman and CEO David Humble told the E-Commerce Times that his company has over 50,000 members, each paying $70 (US$) annually, for the company’s services.
The company first started selling its program in supermarkets, but has now scrapped that approach, in favor of a strictly online strategy.
“This development has taken us from a printed program to a more interactive and accessible program for our members,” Humble said. Though other online weight clinics exist, Humble suggests that eDiet.com is the most focused on offering interactive programs to its members. The eDiet program is based on government guidelines, and, according to Humble, most customers can lose two pounds a week if they follow the guidelines.