Weight Watchers is a diet program with millions of members in over 30 different countries around the world.
It was founded by Jean Nidetch, a Brooklyn homemaker, in 1963. Nidetch and a group of friends in Queens, NY, started meeting once a week to talk about how to lose weight.
Today, Weight Watchers is an international company and the largest commercial weight loss program in the United States (U.S.). Approved by many physicians, it is available in various settings, from the local community to the workplace and online.
The program includes regular meetings, self-help type learning sessions, group support, and a points system. The dieter aims for a target weight or a body mass index (BMI) of between 20 and 25, considered the ideal range.
This article is part of a series called What are the eight most popular diets today?.
Personalized plans, meetings, one-to-one coaching,
and online tools help dieters achieve their goals.
Community is important for Weight Watchers. It provides a support network for people who want to lose weight. This, they say, is essential for both short-term and long-term success.
The support system provides ongoing positive reinforcement for dieters. Attempting to lose weight can be stressful, but community support can make the process less daunting.
Weight Watchers members attend regular meetings, where they learn about nutrition and exercise, as well as having their weight loss progress monitored.
Anyone can join Weight Watchers, as long as they are at least 5 pounds (lb), or 2.3 kilograms (kg), over the minimum weight for their height.
Busy people who cannot attend meetings can sign up to the online community.
Apart from group meetings, Weight Watchers offers one-on-one coaching and a personalized action plan. A personal coach can help the individual make a plan that suits their lifestyle and routine.
Members can communicate with their coach by email, text, or phone.
Weight Watchers dieters are not restricted to specific foods or activities. Instead, they use a point system to monitor themselves on a daily basis. This makes them accountable for their weight loss activities each day. Members can record smart points on their mobile device.
The point system helps people lose weight over the long term.
Points depend on fat, sugar, and protein. The higher the protein content, the lower the points gained. The higher the fat and sugar content, the more points that food has, and the less you can eat.
The points encourage members to change their dietary habits, to eat more fruit, vegetable, and lean protein, and less fatty, sugary food.
Here is an example:
an egg is worth 2 points
two tablespoons of low-fat cheddar cheese are worth 1 point
chopped tomatoes, onion and fresh herbs are worth 0 points
one tablespoon of olive oil is worth 1 point
A person who eats a 2-egg cheese omelet fried with olive oil and sprinkled with tomato, onion and herbs uses up 4 points. If their target for the day is 30 points, they now have 26 points left.