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Medifast: A Medical Diet Endorsed by More Than 15,000 doctors

Started in 1980 by physician William Vitale, the Medifast Company produces and sells weight and health management products under several names, including the Medifast label, Take Shape for Life, Hi-Energy Weight Control Centers, and Woman's Wellbeing. Medifast's clinically proven approach to weight loss (the Medifast diet) focuses on the use of these products along with the advice of medical practitioners and advisors to achieve weight loss goals. Medifast claims that their programs have been recommended by 20,000 doctors and used by over one million customers in the past 30 years.In fact, a number of studies conducted at major universities in the US have demonstrated the effectiveness of the Medifast diet.


Based out of Owings Mills, Maryland, Medifast owns five subsidiaries: Jason Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Take Shape for Life, Inc., Jason Enterprises, Inc., Jason Properties, LLC and Seven Crondall, LLC. Most of Medifast's operations are conducted through two main subsidiaries, Jason Pharmaceuticals and Take Shape for Life. Jason Pharmaceuticals, Inc., produces over 80% of the Medifast products in their $3.4 million plant in Owings Mills, Maryland. The plant produces the food with their own state of the art blending and packaging process and they constantly work to develop new products through their in house product development department.

More than just a food production company, Take Shape for Life, which is affiliated with Medifast, is a network of weight-loss centers that focuses on their client’s mind, body, and finances. Developed as a franchised operation, franchisees of Shape for Life are trained as coaches to assist customers in participating in the Medifast Diet weight-loss program. Through their Maryland contact center, the company sells and services their Medifast and Take Shape for Life customers through phone support and online through chat sessions, email, and interactive message boards. They are very customer-focused in their efforts.

Medifast bases their diet on a low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie plan that allows the typical dieter to remain healthy while losing weight at a faster rate than can be lost under a traditional diet plan. Their diet plan works by inducing the body into a mild state of ketosis, whereby fat is burned instead of muscle. There is no cost to join the program -- the only thing Medifast charges for is its private label line of foods. On a typical day, the targeted caloric intake for a Medifast dieter when consuming their meals is between 800 and 1000 calories.

In layman’s terms, what the diet does is trick the body into turning on itself, coaxing it to burn through its stored fat reserves. Users are encouraged to eat frequently when following this diet to stimulate the metabolism to continuously burn their fat over an extended period. This is a different approach than most fad diets. In addition to helping people to shed the weight, the Medifast diet can also improve a user’s physical health with conditions such as diabetes, the effects of which can be lessened by weight loss. The range of foods offered in the Medifast diet help to keep insulin levels stable as well.

Medifast states that it is not a rare occurrence to shed from two to five pounds per week on their popular “5 plus 1 plan.” Under this plan, in one month's time users could lose between eight and 20 pounds. People with only a few pounds to lose will lose fewer pounds per month, and more obese users will experience the greater rate of weight loss. The majority of people who give testimonials on their website or in their marketing materials seem to be very pleased with these results. Even a dieter who only sheds eight pounds per month would end up dropping up to 48 pounds in half year or 96 pounds in an entire year. This type of result would be considered incredibly successful in the diet world.

The Medifast diet offers a large variety of complex meal plans and a very active and helpful support network. Many users of this plan report that dropping weight with Medifast is easier than any diet they have tried in the past. The success of the company should attest to their ability to help their clients. For the second quarter of 2009, ending on June 30th, the company posted record profits of $3 million in net income, 20 cents per diluted share, compared with $1.5 million, or 11 cents per diluted share during the same period in the previous year.

This increase has been credited by the company in part to the prominent national attention placed on managing weight and other preventative health measures during federal lawmakers’ debate over how to overhaul the health care system in the United States under President Barack Obama. They have also seen substantial increases in sales from their weight loss centers and their expansion into new markets in the states of Texas and Florida, as well as from their online affiliates who regularly offer a Medifast coupon code discount.

Nearly half of the company’s profits are derived from their interests in the Take Shape for Life weight loss program, which relies heavily on the efforts of their network of “health coaches” across the U.S. The rest of their income is gained from their popular meal replacement program, and is boosted by the celebrity endorsements of notable personalities such as University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen and radio personality Ed Norris, who count themselves among the million clients consuming their shakes, nutrition bars, and other diet products.

About the author: Matt Papa is a medical writer and editor of a diet website that offers Nutrisystem coupon codes and BistroMD coupon discounts, two doctor-designed weight loss programs.

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