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I am a Dietitian. Listed below are My Points with Weight Watchers.

This Weight Watchers assessment put up is an opinion piece primarily based on my experience as a dietitian. The quotes which can be bolded all through the piece are the real-life experiences of former Weight Watchers dieters.

Weight Watchers is undeniably some of the profitable industrial eating regimen applications ever. Based in 1961 by Jean Nidetch, a housewife and mom, it has grown to develop into a eating regimen behemoth with 4.6 million members worldwide.

Maybe in an try and shuck off its unhealthy eating regimen juju amongst a big proportion of the inhabitants, Weight Watchers rebranded in 2018 as ‘WW.’ Instantly, Weight Watchers needed to leap on the wellness prepare, however most of us weren’t having it.

That’s as a result of WW was, and is, nonetheless a eating regimen, and everyone knows it. You’ll be able to’t give folks a calorie *ahem* factors funds, have a main final result that entails weight reduction, after which say that you just’re not promoting them a eating regimen. 

And who can overlook Kurbo, WW’s try and suck youngsters into its orbit? The burden loss app, launched in 2019, catered to youngsters as younger as 8 years outdated, and was understandably met with outrage as a result of ‘weight reduction’ and ‘8 yr outdated’ ought to by no means be utilized in the identical sentence.

The Kurbo app isn’t accessible anymore, however in 2022, the FDA issued a settlement order to WW for loopholes within the app, together with one which allowed youngsters to enroll with out parental oversight. The FDA additionally discovered that WW had used Kurbo to illegally harvest delicate well being data from kids. 

Now, underneath CEO Sima Sistani, WW is providing GLP-1 agonists as an alternative choice to its typical eating regimen program. 

Comply with the cash, I suppose.

Learn my Xyngular GLP-X assessment right here.

WW conferences at the moment are principally on-line, and weekly weight-ins are nonetheless a part of this system. If you happen to do go to an in-person ‘workshop’ as they’re now referred to as, the weigh-ins are personal, as an alternative of in entrance of your fellow WW dieters. 

I’ve heard from numerous individuals who have been placed on Weight Watchers as teenagers and adults, about how traumatizing these public weight-ins have been for them. 

Right here’s just a few:

The day the weigher was aghast that I had gained 0.5 kilos was my final go to. She actually put her hand to her mouth in shock and requested me what occurred. I needed to say “I f**king ate, that’s what occurred”.

It was terrible. I used to be a child who didn’t perceive why my physique was “incorrect” in a room full of fifty yr outdated ladies. It taught me nothing about diet, particularly as a result of that was the age of “fats makes you fats”. Every part was off limits and all I realized was how you can conceal my consuming, lie about parts, be embarrassed about weigh-ins, and eat far an excessive amount of of all of the meals I used to be denied as a toddler as soon as I began to purchase my very own meals. I’m 43 and I’m simply now therapeutic my relationship with meals and my physique.

Is there analysis behind the Weight Watchers eating regimen?

There are a few research right here, right here, and right here, that seem to indicate WW’s efficacy when it comes to weight misplaced and diabetes administration. Nevertheless, WW funded these research, and the outcomes are pretty unremarkable.

Keep in mind that simply because one thing has analysis behind it, doesn’t imply it’s good analysis or that the outcomes have been clinically related.

Weight Watchers Factors

The Weight Watchers factors system is the premise of all their eating regimen plans. It was launched in 1998. It then modified to Profitable Factors, then Pure Factors, then Professional Factors, then Factors Plus, then Good Factors after which Freestyle. The variations between these are minimal: the WW Factors system appears to alter as typically because the wind blows, or a minimum of that’s the impression I’ve gotten. 

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The gist is that you just get a sure variety of factors to ‘spend’ every day, plus an allotment of weekly factors to ‘cowl’ any ‘indulgences’ that may pop up. You too can ‘earn’ bonus factors for train, which I feel is totally ridiculous, because it makes train into one thing we do to ‘earn’ meals or ‘make up’ for consuming (each of that are disordered considering), and it’s not how our our bodies work…in any respect. 

I took the WW quiz, which assigned me 26 factors a day. The questions have been principally targeted on weight reduction, asking my present top, weight, purpose weight, intercourse, and age. The one medical historical past query it requested was if I’ve diabetes.

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Related components equivalent to exercise stage, historical past of an consuming dysfunction or different critical diagnoses, weren’t talked about. To their credit score, I attempted to enter a weight that was too low for my top, and acquired this message:

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As a dietitian, my predominant problem with WW is the factors system. I consider that it encourages disordered considering and habits round meals for many individuals. 

Right here’s my Weight Watchers Private Factors assessment.

It encourages ’banking’ of factors (aka energy, who’re we kidding right here), and categorizing meals as ‘good’ and ‘unhealthy.’ Sure, all meals can match, nevertheless it’s human nature to not assume that means when offered with an possibility (aka zero level meals) the place they’ll eat extra for much less. I additionally see this system encouraging followers to ‘sport’ the system.

That is one thing that was echoed in a few of the feedback I acquired from folks:

I did lose 80 kilos however I gained all of it again as a result of it didnt assist me to decide on ‘higher meals’ it helped me to search out methods to nonetheless eat what I needed. So aside from parts nothing modified for me. I assume it gave me a false sense of getting management?

Whereas WW itself doesn’t outwardly promote “synthetic meals” you could possibly are inclined to lean in the direction of a few of them as a result of they have been decrease in factors. I additionally didn’t assume they promoted more healthy choices on a regular basis: Skim milk and 0 fats yogurt have been 0 factors, however I had been taught that you just wanted the fats to blunt any insulin spikes and the fats would additionally enhance your satiety. I discovered it very tough to remain throughout the factors and eat wholesome and left after 3 months.  I determine there was no sense in being smaller if I wasn’t additionally getting more healthy.

Every meals’s factors are calculated primarily based on its vitamins. Positive, greens and fruits have low factors values, however there are extraordinarily bodily nourishing and satisfying meals which can be larger in factors. Avocado, nuts, oatmeal, and candy potatoes are just a few of them. 

The present WW program has greater than 200 zero-point meals, which sounds wonderful till you understand that it truly isn’t, for causes I’m going to clarify.

WW tells dieters to not overeat zero level meals, however in the event you’ve been given a factors funds to remain inside, there’s a definite attract to stuffing your self with zero level meals as a way to ‘afford’ the inevitable multi-point binge.

All of this turns consuming right into a math equation, which can result in consuming meals that you just don’t need simply to suit into your factors funds, or not consuming as a lot as you want due to the factors. Conversely, you might eat simply to fulfill your factors funds when you have factors left over (which in all probability by no means occurs). This could mess up your inside starvation and fullness cues.

Right here’s why I don’t advocate having a calorie purpose.

It additionally promotes satiety OVER satisfaction. Quantity consuming, or consuming giant volumes of low-calorie meals to fill the abdomen so that you don’t eat different, higher-calorie meals, is a disordered behaviour.

If you happen to go over your factors funds or eat the ‘incorrect’ meals, this could result in guilt and disgrace, one thing that perpetuates the eating regimen cycle.

Individuals should observe their level consumption, which may be triggering for anybody who’s predisposed to, has, or has had an consuming dysfunction. That is doubtlessly a big section of the inhabitants, because the prevalence of consuming problems themselves (NOT together with disordered consuming), in response to this 2019 examine in JAMA, is 1 in 5 ladies and 1 in 7 males.

We additionally know that prevalence of consuming problems peaks once more in ladies round center age, in response to this 2023 examine and others. In 2018, a report by MRI Simmons discovered that 85% of WW dieters have been ladies, and 43% of these ladies have been over the age of 55.

WW could say they’re all about well being, however what I see mirrored within the quite a few WW factors teams on Fb, is just about the other.

If you happen to can’t eat meals with out swapping out elements for lower-calorie selections, and you may’t eat with out counting or monitoring, please know that this isn’t what an excellent relationship with meals appears to be like like. It removes all flexibility, pleasure, and peace from consuming. Not good.

This system makes use of ‘coaches’ who lack in-depth, related diet coaching. Their solely {qualifications} are that they’ve reached their purpose weight with WW and maintained it for a minimum of 6 months. 

Clearly, this isn’t ample coaching to advise folks on their diet. Vitamin and the psychology behind meals selections are complicated. Unqualified folks can doubtlessly do hurt once they contain themselves in different peoples’ relationships with meals and consuming.

Learn my Noom assessment right here.

As with most diets, many individuals shed weight initially with WW as a result of they’re consuming fewer energy than they have been beforehand. That is simply simple arithmetic. Nevertheless, the psychological exhaustion that outcomes from counting factors and overthinking all the pieces you set into your mouth may cause a lot of these folks to surrender. I don’t blame them.

I’ve seen many individuals in my follow who’ve carried out Weight Watchers years in the past, however nonetheless see meals as ‘factors.’ That is problematic, as a result of it causes them to worry meals and second-guess all the pieces they eat. It completely takes away that connection between how they really feel and what they select to eat. 

 I nonetheless know what number of factors some issues are a long time later. The weekly weigh ins have been so disturbing and the straight up meals obsession was so dangerous.

The factor is, these folks typically return to WW many times, as a result of of their thoughts, it ‘labored’ as soon as for them, so that they’re going for a second, fourth, or eighth kick on the can. It not often has a contented ending, however that’s what eating regimen applications like Weight Watchers need. 

Repeat prospects. Lifetime devotees. Folks turning into depending on figuring out the factors of every morsel of meals earlier than they permit themselves to eat it. Blaming themselves for his or her ‘failure’ on a eating regimen that’s made to fail anyhow. 

Sound acquainted? Lots of you who’re studying this may recall having these experiences with WW. I’m sorry.

I joined many occasions and by no means made purpose weight. On account of being on WW I continued to drink espresso and tea black, don’t put butter on greens and restrict fats. Nonetheless I’m heavier than I must be.

I work out recurrently, stroll lengthy distances and customarily really feel responsible about not having my weight down. This month I flip 68.

I’ll say that I’ve joined WW so many occasions that I actually misplaced rely. I by no means reached the purpose weight that THEY set for me and all the time felt like a failure each time I left as a result of it was my fault for “being so weak”.

My greatest takeaway from WW was that each one of my price as a human being was tied to a quantity on a scale, and all meals had numbers as effectively, which by God Had To Be Stored Below The Restrict.

There was not solely a complete disregard for diet but in addition for the enjoyment and pleasure of meals too.

I attempted ww and did lose 30 lbs which has come again after I finished. I’ll say it made folks panic a few 0.3lb achieve, get obsessive about which model of hummus is 1 level vs 1.5, too targeted on the minutia, not an total wholesome sustainable long run weight upkeep resolution. Any program will work when you work it, however you shouldn’t want a program if you’re truly studying the talents and habits for wholesome dwelling.

I additionally acquired feedback from followers who stated constructive issues about their time with WW.

Issues like, it gave them construction and taught them about portion measurement. That they’ve misplaced weight and stored it off, for essentially the most half. That they benefit from the group, and that total, it was a constructive expertise.

Does Weight Watchers work? Properly, each eating regimen will ‘work’ for somebody. And by ‘work,’ I imply shedding weight and KEEPING IT OFF.

I acquired 173 feedback, 6 messages, and 15 emails about WW.  Out of these 194 items of correspondence, 9 have been supportive of WW. 4 have been so-so, and the remainder have been adverse.

181 out of 194 have been so-so or adverse, or 93%. This isn’t a scientific final result, nevertheless it’s attention-grabbing to see the cut up. I really feel as if it’s per what I’ve heard from folks over the previous 24 years I’ve been a dietitian.

Regardless of how WW places it, it’s nonetheless a eating regimen. 

Oh hey, how about we simply EAT?

Folks won’t ever cease desirous to shed weight, and as a dietitian who helps intentional weight reduction the place acceptable, I completely perceive. Nevertheless, I feel there are higher methods to shed weight than to topic your self to WW or one other industrial eating regimen program.

Weight Watchers, in the event you’re listening, listed here are my suggestions:

Eliminate the factors in favor of a extra intuitive eating-style program. Folks might be mad at first, however within the long-run, it’s a more healthy solution to see meals and consuming. 

If you happen to’re really taken with peoples’ well being and total wellness, cease making weight reduction the first purpose of your program.

Get some type of upkeep help, as a result of a number of folks complained to me that you’ve got none.

Monitor the WW teams on social for disordered behaviour, and FFS, ask related questions in your onboarding quiz.

Use certified well being professionals as coaches. You may have the cash. Simply do it.

Who am I kidding…WW won’t ever change their methods. We are able to hope, although.

SHAMELESS PLUG: in the event you’re struggling along with your diet and relationship with meals, I will help! I’m taking 1:1 shoppers now. I’m dearer than WW, however you might be able to get protection for my companies when you have personal insurance coverage. Right here’s the hyperlink for extra data and to request a session.

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