Weight Watchers International is an American company that offers various products and services to assist weight loss and maintenance (Weight Watchers Diet). Founded in 1963 by Queens, New York, homemaker Jean Nidetch, it now operates in about 30 countries around the world, generally under names that are local translations of “Weight Watchers”. The core philosophy behind Weight Watchers programs is to use a science-driven approach to help participants lose weight by forming helpful habits, eating smarter, getting more exercise and providing support.
Known for its famous point system, Weight Watchers focuses on eating a balanced diet, eating in moderation, and eating the foods you want. Every food has an assigned number of points, depending on its calorie count and how much fat and fiber it contains.
The Weight Watchers program includes regular meetings, learning sessions, group support, and a very effective points system.
Though the Weight Watchers system has evolved over the years, it has always been about creating a balanced diet, eating in moderation, and eating the foods you want. This plan promotes the inclusion of a wide variety of foods, therefore it supports balance—all foods are considered ‘legal’ to avoid feeling deprived.
The thrust of the Weight Watcher’s program is on regular meetings, monitoring and encouragement, through self-help group type sessions. The dieter aims for a target weight or BMI (body mass index) of between 20 and 25.
If your body mass index is below 20 you are considered as too thin, if it is over 25 your are overweight, if it is between 20 and 25 you are within the ideal weight range. People can aim for a BMI outside the 20 to 25 parameters as long as they have a doctor’s note saying so.
Weight Watchers Inc. says that establishing a support network at the start of any weight-loss attempt is crucial for both short and long term success.
A dieter needs constant positive reinforcement. Attempting to lose weight can be a stressful ordeal for many dieters, and a support network can help make the process less daunting.
Weight Watchers members will have regular meetings where they will learn about nutrition and exercise, as well as having their weight loss progress monitored.
In order to join Weight Watchers in the United States, one must weigh at least 5 pounds (2.3 kg) more than the minimum weight considered healthy by the company for their height.
The points system is considered by many as the easiest tool for a person who aims to lose weight over the long term. Dieters learn how to self monitor on a daily basis – thus making themselves accountable for each day.
A simple way to calculate points is (Calories + (Fat x 4) – (Fiber x 10)) / 50
Portions of foods are assigned points. If a food is high in fiber and/or low in fat it is worth fewer points. The higher the fiber content, or the lower the fat content, the more of that food you can eat each day.
Every food has an assigned number of points, depending on its calorie count and how much fat and fiber it contains. The Momentum program stresses filling foods that satisfy hunger. On Weight Watchers, there are no “must-eat” foods — you put together your own menu based on the point total you’re given when you enroll, which is based on your current weight and you goal weight.
Weight Watchers is not a fad approach, but rather a slow and steady plan designed to help you lose up to 2 pounds a week. “Because of the combination of keeping track of points, making healthy food choices, being made aware of the lifestyle changes, and increasing activity, the participant will lose weight.
Participants can expect to lose from ½ pound to 2 pounds per week. “Weight Watchers takes pride in being a healthy weight-management program.
Once a member reaches his or hers goal weight, they start a maintenance period. For the following six weeks, the member gradually adjusts their food intake until the member no longer loses or gains weight. If, at the end of six weigh-ins during the maintenance period, the member weighs in within 2 pounds (0.91 kg) of their goal weight, they becomes a “Lifetime” member.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, found that after a 6-month Weight Watchers group program, overweight or obese adults who attended at least two thirds of the weekly sessions, not only lost weight, but also significantly reduced fasting glucose and insulin levels – important indicators of diabetes risk.
Weight Watchers might be slower because it’s based on realistic living and portion control — it may not give an obese person initial gratification because it’s not as restrictive, but chances are you can stay on it and live with it much longer.
Weight Watchers’ eTools is a Web-based service for members that includes access to support materials and tracking tools. In some areas Weight Watchers meetings are operated by a locally franchised organization rather than by Weight Watchers International.
In most locations, Weight Watchers holds meetings for members which in some cases may cause positive reinforcement for participants.