Is Weight Watchers Any Good or Does it Suck?

Is Weight Watchers any good or is it a waste of money?

We can’t escape hearing about the Obesity Crisis in the US. We get obesity statistics daily and we’re constantly reminded of all the sickness and chronic disease associated with obesity.

As a nation we are obsessed with weight loss. We are also overwhelmed by all the methods that promise to “deliver us from evil (AKA fat)!”

Weight Watchers® has been helping people lose weight for more than 50 years. Despite its age there are a lot of misperceptions about the company. This blog is not written to influence anybody to join Weight Watchers, but simply to separate fiction from fact so people can make an informed decision.

 

FICTION: Weight Watchers tells you what your goal weight should be and they’re not realistic.

Weight Watchers uses the Body Mass Index (20-25) as a guide to help members determine a weight goal. Their range reflects current scientific and medical thinking. Research suggests there are the fewest weight-related health risks for people within this range. But, they readily acknowledge that a BMI of 20-25 is not realistic for every member, especially for members with a lot of weight to lose.

Jackie Conn, 40 pounds lighter (and roughly 25 years older) than when she joined Weight Watchers channels her inner Jean Nidetch!

Jackie Conn, 40 pounds lighter (and roughly 25 years older) than when she joined Weight Watchers channels her inner Jean Nidetch!

Weight Watchers advises all members to have a conversation with their physician about a healthy, maintainable goal weight. If it happens to be outside of the Weight Watchers goal range, a note from the doctor makes it the member’s official weight goal. The member can earn Lifetime Member privileges upon reaching that weight and maintaining it for 6 weeks.

FACT: Every member chooses his or her own goal with as much or as little input from the Weight Watchers leader as the member wants.

FICTION: Weight Watchers makes its members eat gross sugar-free, fat-free, diet food full of chemicals and “fake ingredients.”

Weight Watchers doesn’t make members eat anything they don’t want to eat. There are Weight Watchers brand foods in the supermarkets, but members never need to buy them to follow the program. There are also snacks and microwavable breakfasts and side dishes sold in most meeting rooms. They are offered for the members’ convenience, but members are not required nor pressured to buy them, ever!

The Weight Watchers PointsPlus® program assigns members a daily PointsPlus target based on the member’s current weight, height, gender and age. Every food has a PointsPlus (PP) value that is calculated using Weight Watchers proprietary formula that takes into account the fat, fiber, protein, and carbohydrate content in a serving of any food. If the member eats more or less than the serving, the PP value must be adjusted accordingly. Most fruit and vegetables are 0 PP values.

Members can choose what they want to eat and by counting and tracking, and aiming not to exceed their target. They can achieve satisfaction with their food and their weight loss. The best part about the food plan is how is helps members eat more nutritiously without forcing them to eat anything they don’t want or like.

FACT: Weight Watchers PointsPlus program allows members to make their own food choices based on preferences and dietary needs and is 100% personalized by each individual member.

FICTION: The meeting room staff are judgmental, moralistic, preachy and they are disgusted by members who don’t make satisfactory weight loss progress.

The meeting room staff are all Weight Watchers Lifetime members. They continue to follow the program with adjustments for maintenance. They were once members in meetings, losing weight just like the members they’re helping. They weighed in weekly and sometimes they didn’t lose weight. They went through the same ups and downs that members experience. They know first-hand how it feels!

Members see a fit woman weighing them in before a meeting. They may not know that this woman lost 112 pounds 37 years ago and following the maintenance program to stay at goal.

Members see a fit woman weighing them in before a meeting. They may not know that this woman lost 112 pounds 37 years ago and following the maintenance program to stay at goal.

The expression you might read as judgmental is more likely to be one of sharing your feelings. They are empathic because they have felt the same feelings, faced the same frustrations, and been disappointed when they thought they should lose but the scale didn’t show the loss they expected.

They are not a bunch of thin people who have always been thin and who judge members harshly for failure to be losing steadily.

There may be individuals who display moralistic or judgmental behavior but this is not something that Weight Watchers encourages among staff nor wants to see in any meeting.

FACT: Weight Watchers continuously observes and coaches staff to ensure service providers reflect their service vision. If a member encounters a service provider who isn’t supportive and empathic, Weight Watchers appreciates hearing about the experience so that necessary action can be taken.

FICTION: Weight Watchers meetings are silly and/or boring and only relevant to middle-aged ladies.

Weight Watchers meetings are focused discussions on all facets of weight management. Meetings are a mix of ages, races, occupations, life experiences, and interests. Although most meetings are predominately female, they are equally relevant to males. The leaders keep them interesting, motivating and ensure that a specific weight management objective is met in every meeting.

The "Mother (and founder) of Weight Watchers, Jean Nidetch, warmly greets members at a meeting in Boca Raton, FL. March 2010

The “Mother (and founder) of Weight Watchers, Jean Nidetch, warmly greets members and signs copies of her book at a meeting in Boca Raton, FL. March 2010

The reality is that all people, from all walks of life, of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and religions share the same struggles in regards to weight management. Hunger brought on by stresses, emotions and temptations doesn’t discriminate. Stressors and temptations can be vastly different from member to member but the strategies to manage them are universal.

FACT: People lose 8 times more weight with regular meeting attendance and using eTools (Weight Watchers digital tools) compared to going it alone*. Gaining insight on how to overcome a weight-related challenge from a variety of people with different points of view advance members’ success and Weight Watchers efficacy.

FICTION: Weight Watchers wants members to fail. That’s how they make money.

Successful businesses make money by delivering quality products or services and keeping the promises they make to their customers. To think that a company can stay in business doing anything else is ludicrous.

Weight Watchers has been the trusted name in weight loss for more than 50 years. It’s true that not everybody who’s ever joined Weight Watchers has reached his or her goal. It’s true that not everybody who reached goal has stayed there.

  • Weight loss/maintenance takes work.
  • Weight Watchers provides members with a scientifically proven plan to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Weight Watchers helps members discover how their beliefs and actions undermine their weight-related goals and helps them to develop strategies to change them.
  • Weight Watchers meetings reinforces weight-related behavioral changes in their meetings, an environment of group support.
  • Weight Watchers provides continuing support to help Lifetime Members stay at goal at no cost, providing Lifetime Members maintain in-good-standing status.

Jean Nidetch started Weight Watchers in her Queens, NY apartment when she realized that a healthy food plan wasn't enough. She needed to surround herself with people with the same goals and struggles so that they could motivate, encourage, inspire and support each other every step of the way to goal! Her discovery is as effective today as it was back in 1962!

Jean Nidetch started Weight Watchers in her Queens, NY apartment when she realized that a healthy food plan wasn’t enough. She needed to surround herself with people with the same goals and struggles so that they could motivate, encourage, inspire and support each other every step of the way to goal! Her discovery is as effective today as it was back in 1962!

FACT: Weight Watchers is 100% committed to member success. The best way for Weight Watchers to be successful and profitable as a business is to get every member to goal and to keep them as free Lifetime Members! There is no shortage of people who need Weight Watchers, so there is no reason to think that Weight Watchers wants its members to fail so that they can keep them as paying customers! More member success = more members!

* A recent study published in The American Journal of Medicine found that with Weight Watchers Meetings and eTools, people lost 8X more the weight than those who tried to lose weight on their own.

 

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is the general manager of Weight Watchers of Maine. She is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. Her experience with her own weight management journey and raising girls has given her insight into the struggles families face with weight, healthy body image, food and physical activity. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news for more than ten years and appears monthly as a guest on FOX network morning program Good Day Maine.