The eDiets.com website provides information on several diet programs and fitness regimens, as well as support from health professionals, but the term e-diets may be used to describe any diet program found on the internet.
American internet entrepreneur David R. Humble started eDiets.com in 1996. Unable to find investors for the site, Humble invested $500,000 of his own money to begin the company. Humble discovered a niche in the fee-based online dieting community. The eDiets website uses a unique software program to provide customized diet and fitness plans for individuals. From a small office in Deerfield Beach, Florida, eDiets.com has grown into an international business with websites in Germany, Spain, and Portugal.
Pricing for the basic eDiets program is approximately $9 a day, but members may have to pay an upfront membership fee. This typically provides the member with customized weekly meal plans complete with grocery shopping lists, a fitness program based on the member's profile, and access to community forums, newsletters, and articles on a variety of mind and body issues. Features that require an additional monthly fee include the recipe club, online chat groups and meetings, and access to experts for advice or consultation.
New members are paired with an existing member as part of the eDiets mentor program. The mentor offers support and assistance with the program. In addition, members can choose to participate in online meetings and chat rooms, take advantage of 24-hour support, or find emotional support through interactive tools. These resources aim to provide community and accountability that can help individuals maintain the weight-loss program.
An online shopping section features fitness equipment, books, videos, nutritional supplements, and other health-related products. To make the program even more convenient, a meal delivery plan is available, allowing members to have their meals prepared and delivered to their door.
The premise of eDiets.com is to provide an informative and supportive environment available to members at their convenience. This type of weight-loss program appeals to individuals who are uncomfortable with face-to-face group programs or who cannot attend local support sessions. The flexibility and customization of the meal and fitness plans is another highlight.
The eDiets.com proprietary software provides individuals with information on their body mass index (BMI) and offers diet plans based on the data entered. From the data provided in the member's profile, the program generates a meal guide that targets the member's optimal calorie intake to lose weight. A shopping list and recipe recommendations simplify food preparation. Additionally, members can switch from one weight-loss program to another at any time (such as from the new Mediterranean diet to Atkins) while maintaining the other features and programs associated with the eDiets membership.
An eDiets membership offers a wide array of support methods, meal preferences, fitness programs, and other features that help individuals stay motivated to reach their weight loss goals. The low monthly membership fee is attractive, and meal planning solutions have been tailored to suit mobile and online interfaces to make it easier for members to plan their meal solutions.
The option of adjusting the meal plan to accommodate eating habits is a great benefit. Menus can include convenience foods (including fast-food), self-prepared meals, or both. They can also be modified to account for special diets or dietary restrictions. A prepared shopping list that corresponds to the menu selections adds to the ease.
An important advantage is the fitness program component. A customized workout is created based on an individual's lifestyle, age, and other personal information provided. The option to work one-on-one with a trainer or have more personalized fitness plans developed are available for an additional monthly fee.
Member support is a significant part of eDiets and can include:
As with any weight-loss program, it is important to talk with a physician about the intended changes. A disclaimer on eDiets.com states that the advice and recommendations on the website are not intended to be medical advice or take the place of a physician's advice. Recommendations for diet plans, optimal weight loss, and exercise programs on the website are calculated using a proprietary software program. They are based on data provided by the individual, and therefore are only as accurate as the information entered. It is imperative to be honest when entering the requested data.
If an individual already has an ideal weight, the program indicates additional weight loss is not necessary. Individuals may join to improve their eating habits and/or fitness level.
In general, members should use the eDiets website with the same caution as other websites. Articles and information presented should be reviewed for timeliness and reliability. Members must be careful when providing personal identification information, especially in e-mail or chat rooms with other members. Members who falsify their identities are a possibility.
Risks related to using eDiets.com are minimal. When registering for membership, individuals should carefully review the terms and conditions. Dissatisfied members complain about poor customer service and difficulty canceling membership. They also cite frustration with identifying plan pricing and fees for several features on the website.
Before beginning any of the diet plans or exercise programs, individuals should talk with a physician to identify risks specific to the type of diet or exercise selected. It is also important for the dieter to ask her or his healthcare provider if any additional supplements, vitamins, and/or minerals should be added to the recommended diet. Individuals with any health concerns, such as Type 2 diabetes or heart trouble, or those taking medications need to be especially careful to have all aspects of the diet evaluated to be sure it will not cause any complications.
Limited clinical data is available regarding the efficacy of eDiets relative to other weight-loss programs. Of the trials published to date, eDiets was not more effective than other online weight reduction programs, with some evidence that weight-loss claims from online testimonials were higher than results from clinical trials. In general, research on the effectiveness of online diet programs suggests that, although online tools can be helpful aids for weight loss, usually they are most successful when coupled with personalized feedback.
See also Atkins diet ; Mayo Clinic diet (fad diet) ; Mayo Clinic plan (official) ; Trim Kids .
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Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 S. Riverside Plaza, Ste. 2190, Chicago, IL, 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040, (800) 877-1600, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.eatright.org .
American Society for Nutrition, 9211 Corporate Blvd., Ste. 300, Rockville, MD, 20850, (240) 428-3650, Fax: (240) 404-6797, http://www.nutrition.org .
Stacey L. Chamberlin
Revised by Anne P. Nugent, PhD RNutr