Slim4Life is a center-based approach to weight loss that helps dieters lose weight through regular sessions with personal diet counselors.
It is not clear how the Slim4Life program originated. The website, http://www.Slim4Life.com , says that they have been helping dieters for more than 25 years. There are centers located in Denver, Colorado; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Kansas City, Missouri. The website offers minimal information about the program, but there is no Web-based support program. This means that dieters who do not live near the three cities in which the Slim4Life centers are located may have significant problems accessing this program.
The Slim4Life program is based around weight-loss centers. At these centers, dieters meet one-on-one with counselors to receive personalized advice, support, and guidance. The Slim4Life website says that its programs focus on supervision, individual counseling, and behavior education. The centers offer programs for men and women, as well as children ages ten and up.
Dieters interested in participating in the Slim4Life program can set up a free 30-minute meeting and consultation with a diet counselor. If the dieter decides to enter the program, he or she will meet regularly with counselors, sometimes as many as two to three times a week. Dieters do not have specifically assigned personal counselors, and do not need to make appointments. Instead, dieters may come into the center whenever it is open (usually Monday through Saturday) and see counselors on a first-come, first-served basis.
The focus of the Slim4Life program is the individual needs and preferences of the dieter. The program offers dietary guidance for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other health conditions, as well as for vegetarians and people with serious dietary limitations. The guidelines set by the dietary counselors allow dieters to make many choices about the foods that they eat each day. The program is designed to allow dieters to prepare foods from the supermarket, and does not require that prepackaged meals be purchased.
Slim4Life emphasizes a diet high in vegetables and fruits and includes whole grains and other healthy foods. Sugar and fats are limited, and some dieters have reported restrictions on dairy or other foods. In general, Slim4Life tries to help dieters stay away from processed foods and eat healthier, fresh foods. The counselors can also provide dieters with suggestions for how to choose healthy foods when eating out.
Slim4Life does not provide specific exercise recommendations. Although the program does encourage its dieters to be active and promises increased energy levels, dieters do not receive a personalized exercise plan or guide. Although Slim4Life does not require the dieter to buy prepackaged meals, many dieters have reported being encouraged to buy various nutritional supplements such as bars and mixes, as well as various dietary supplements. The cost of the program varies, but may exceed $600.00, much of which may be due up front. This cost may be prohibitive for many dieters.
Slim4Life is intended to produce significant weight loss while helping dieters change their eating habits and behaviors to make the weight loss easier to maintain. Slim4Life says that dieters will lose weight at a rate of 3–5 pounds (1.3–2.3 kg) per week, and that the average weight lost per week is 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg). The one-on-one counseling is intended to allow dieters to get personalized feedback, help, and support. Although the main focus of the program is weight loss, the program is also intended to help dieters achieve overall better health and to have more energy.
There are many benefits to weight loss if it is achieved at a moderate pace through healthy eating and exercise. Most experts suggest that a moderate pace is about 1–2 pounds of weight loss per week. Slim4Life claims that its dieters lose weight at about twice this rate. Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and many other diseases and conditions. People who are the most obese are at the greatest risk, and are most likely to have severe symptoms if the diseases do develop. Weight loss can reduce the risk of obesity-related disease and can even reduce the severity of the symptoms in some cases when the diseases have already developed.
Many dieters may find that the one-on-one nature of the counseling at Slim4Life centers is extremely helpful. People who are shy or have feelings of embarrassment about their weight may find that it is easier to talk about weight and weight-related issues in an individual, instead of a group, setting. Others, however, may find that they would prefer the social support system that group settings can bring. Individual counseling can also help by addressing the individual needs and preferences of dieters. Slim4Life says that it can work with a dieter's personal physician to address any dietary needs related to diseases and conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. This possible integration of physician and weight-loss center may be beneficial for people with strict dietary requirements or concerns, and may help the dieter make the best dietary decisions for his or her particular needs.
There are some risks to any diet, but there are generally more risks to a diet that is very restrictive of any type of food. This is because eating a limited variety of foods can make it difficult to get all of the vitamins and minerals required for good health. Dieters may want to talk to their doctor about whether a multivitamin or supplement would help reduce this risk. Dietary supplements have their own risks, even if they are herbal or “all natural.” Dieters should discuss any recommended herbs, vitamins, or supplements with their doctor or another healthcare professional to ensure that the supplements are necessary and safe before beginning to take them.
There have been no significant scientific studies investigating the effectiveness of the Slim4Life program. It is generally accepted that a moderately reduced calorie diet, when combined with exercise, is a good way for people to lose weight. Most experts recommend 1–2 pounds a week, less than Slim4Life promises, as a reasonable amount of weight to lose each week for most people.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture makes recommendations for healthy eating in its MyPlate food guide. MyPlate recommends the number of servings from each food group needed daily by most people for good health. Any healthy diet plan should generally follow these guidelines. The MyPlate recommendations can be found online at ChooseMyPlate.gov . The dietary recommendations made by Slim4Life counselors are supposed to be individualized to a dieter's needs and likes, as well as to take into account any diseases or conditions present that might affect dietary needs. Therefore it is difficult to determine the nature of the overall dietary recommendations.
Some dieters have reported that dairy products were extremely limited or completely eliminated from their diet while following the plan set by their Slim4-Life counselors. MyPlate recommends that healthy adults consume the equivalent of 3 cups of dairy products each day for good health. Low- or nonfat dairy products are strongly recommended. Any diet that does not meet this recommendation means that a dieter runs the risk of having a calcium deficiency, which can lead to osteoporosis and other negative outcomes.
The necessity and wisdom of taking pills, herbs, and other products intended to aid weight loss is a hotly debated subject. Many people believe that such dietary supplements can help dieters achieve weight loss more quickly and may have positive health benefits. Other people believe that such supplements are usually unnecessary, and that their effectiveness is questionable because of the lack of controlled, reproducible studies indicating their effectiveness. Critics of such supplements also often argue that because dietary supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as strictly as prescription medicines, they may have negative side effects that are not yet documented.
An example of this kind of problem occurred involving supplements containing ephedra. On April 12, 2004, the FDA banned the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra because of evidence that the compound increased a dieter's risk of cardiovascular complications and because of a lack of evidence of significant positive health benefits that could outweigh this risk. Before this time, many dieters all over the United States were taking supplements that contained ephedra without being aware of the possibility that it could cause extremely serious side effects.
Jones, Keith. Diet and Nutrition Sourcebook. 5th ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2016.
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Slim4Life official website. http://www.slim4life.com (accessed April 18, 2018).
Tish Davidson, MA