- 3 Minutes Read
- Nov 21, 2017
Weight Watchers is a solid weight loss program that has stood the test of time and research. This post describes the Weight Watchers plan - what it is, the pros and cons, and if it is effective for weight loss.
The Weight Watchers program has been around for more than 50 years. Jean Nidetch founded the program, which began by inviting friends to her home for a weekly discussion about the best ways to lose weight. Weight Watchers is not really a diet, but rather a program for lifestyle-change. You can eat whatever you want, however the program incentivizes you to make healthier choices using its points system.
Weight Watchers has updated its program over the years, basing its changes on the evolving science of nutrition and weight management. In 2015, Weight Watchers launched the Beyond the Scale Program. At the core is the SmartPoints value that is assigned to foods and beverages based on calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein. This updated version of Weight Watchers leads you to choose more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein because they have lower point values. The daily points allowance is based on gender, age, height and weight, and everyone gets at least 30 points a day. Another component of the new program is called Beyond the Scale. It helps you track daily physical activity and gives credit for activities from housework to jogging, tailoring the program to an individual's fitness level. It also focuses on behavioral change and overall health, rather than simply focusing on weight.
Weight Watchers program costs vary according to the three plan options and available specials. There is a $20 starter fee that may be waived with specials. Rates can be paid weekly or monthly, and range from $4.61 per week for the online-only program to $10.77 for the personal phone-coaching and online program. The monthly all-inclusive package, called Total Access, costs $69.95 per month. There is no long-term contract required. If you are employed, check with Human Resources to see if your employer offers assistance with fees. Contact Weight Watchers for current prices and available specials.
Of the many weight loss programs out there, Weight Watchers stands out as the strongest leader of the pack. US News & World Report ranks diets annually, using input from a national panel of health experts. Diets are ranked according to ease of following, nutrition, safety, effectiveness, and protection against diabetes and heart disease. In 2017, Weight Watchers was ranked #1 for Best Weight-Loss Diet, #1 for Best Fast Weight-Loss Diet, #1 for Easiest Diet to Follow, and #1 for Best Commercial Diet Plan.
Weight Watchers has a decent amount of research to back up its claims for effective weight loss. US News & World Report provides a nice summary of available studies. One review in Circulation showed that Weight Watchers was the only diet that "consistently demonstrated greater efficacy at reducing weight at 12 months". Another 2016 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed significant improvements in blood sugar control at 6 months, with those improvements sustained at 12 months. This is why many health care professionals, including myself, recommend Weight Watchers as a sensible option for weight loss and healthy living.
Anyone seeking a weight loss program that uses an easy points system and a comprehensive package of support options could benefit from Weight Watchers.
Yes, Weight Watchers is safe and effective long term.
Yes, I am a fan of this time-tested, solid weight-management program that focuses on healthy lifestyle, food and exercise tracking, and positive social support.