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CalorieKing: More Than Just a Little Book

CalorieKing CEO Keith McGuinness talks to Laura K.

Laura KolodjeskiLaura Kolodjeski

Keith McGuinnessKeith McGuinness

In our last post, we shared all about author and diet pioneer Allan Borushek and his incredibly successful book “The CalorieKing Calorie Fat & Carbohydrate Counter.” While Allan’s book has become an important tool for those with healthy eating goals, it’s just one part of what CalorieKing offers, which brings us to today’s post. CalorieKing CEO Keith McGuinness tells us more about the company and how it has evolved into more than a book and a website.

Keith began to focus on clinic-based weight management in the mid-1990s. He led a team to build what may have been the first web-based support tool for patients participating in a clinical weight loss program. The company he worked for at the time already used Allan’s book in its clinics and Keith began to offer the book online as well. Eventually, Keith contacted Allan to explore using his food database in a web-based weight control system.

“At the time, Allan asked what I would do with the book and the website,” Keith said. “The answer was not difficult. I told Allan I wouldn’t change the book, but I would focus everything on lasting weight control. We will become known as a healthcare company on which other healthcare companies can rely to help improve health outcomes.”

One thing led to another and, in 2004, Keith officially joined forces with Allan. Soon, CalorieKing became a brand, and the CalorieKing team began to design a web-based weight control program that Keith says any physician could recommend. Keith acknowledges that there is plenty of competition, but he says CalorieKing is different in a fundamental way.

“CalorieKing Program users pay us a subscription fee; this ensures that we focus on their weight control needs,” Keith said. “Many web-based competitors offer their tools for free by selling website ad-space to produce revenue. This means they may put website traffic ahead of customer health outcomes.”

“The CalorieKing Program helps our subscribers form new, long-term habits that can help prevent weight gain once they achieve their target weight. Our goal is to help our subscriber to discover a personal approach to weight control that matches their individual circumstances and can be followed lifelong.”

The CalorieKing Program includes many tools. Each member uses those parts of the Program that fit their personal habits and circumstances,” Keith said.

“As time goes by, CalorieKing will make the Program even easier to use and more mobile-friendly. But there will always be a mix of tools, web-based and print. Many CalorieKing Program users also rely on our convenient little book and carry it with them wherever they go. And many begin with the book and migrate to the web and into the CalorieKing Program.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that CalorieKing’s database, on restaurant and food nutritional information, is used for Sanofi’s GoMeals® app that allows you to track your food intake and look up the nutritional information from various restaurants around the country.

Keith said that CalorieKing is also a tool that some physicians use with their patients. Since primary care practitioners now receive some reimbursement from Medicare for obesity counseling, CalorieKing is focused on helping them deliver this service to patients. He said some physicians have patients sign-up for CalorieKing as a way to guide their weight management between visits; users are then able to easily share their progress with their doctor.

“Physicians aren’t using these tools widely yet. We want to collaborate with others and design tools that physicians can use cost effectively,” Keith said. “To be effective, physicians will need to give homework assignments and find a way to follow-up between office visits.  CalorieKing can be the homework.”

Working with doctors isn’t the only exciting development for Keith and CalorieKing. Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine has partnered with CalorieKing to study how users interact with CalorieKing tools and how social networking and other interactions may affect weight control.

“We will continue to collaborate to learn how to design increasingly effective tools,” Keith said.

Keith said it seems reasonable that an individual who is dealing with obesity but doesn’t have diabetes will behave differently than someone who is dealing with both. He said each will need and use different tools to improve their specific circumstance.

“Going forward, CalorieKing will deploy as many options as we can.” Keith said “And we will try to make it easy for the patient to collaborate with their primary care team.”

I know I am interested to read the results of the Northwestern research and to see what the future has in store for CalorieKing. I’d like to thank both Keith and Allan for their time and would welcome them back with updates. Are any of you are using their book, website or Program? Are any of you tapping into their database via the GoMeals® app? Let us know in the comments below!

All the best,

Laura K.

Note: CalorieKing is a registered trademark of CalorieKing Wellness Solutions, Inc.

Disclosure: Keith McGuinness received no compensation for this post. CalorieKing provides the database service that powers GoMeals® through a partnership with Sanofi US. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

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