NutriSystem was founded in 1971 when inventor Harold Katz set out to help his mother lose weight. Katz opened his first weight loss center in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.
The company grew quickly through franchises and Katz opening more corporate-owned locations. The company rebranded as Nutrisystem in 1980 and went public in 1982 on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol NTRI.
The company began at first by dispensing weight loss tips and counseling but later moved to offer their own food, which was picked up at counseling offices.
In 1993, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after expanding to nearly 2,000 centers.
In 1997, the company became an online business during the dot-com explosion.
Today, the company sells through their website and QVC. They have many celebrity endorsers including Marie Osmond, Jillian Barberie, Dan Marino and Don Shula.
In 2014, the company received a great deal of criticism after a blind control test found that subjects lost only a minimal amount of weight using the company’s products during the first 3 months and that there was no evidence that Nutrisystem products helped to maintain long-term weight loss.
In 2015, the company acquired the South Beach Diet brand for $15 million.
US News, in a review of the Top 40 Diet Plans, ranked Nutrisystem as #19, giving it high marks for convenience and food availability, but low marks for lack of choices when eating out and the company’s “TV Dinners.”