Diet 101: WW (Weight Watchers)

WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) released the myWW program. Find out if it’s right for you.

December 13, 2019
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Photo by: Arx0nt/Getty

Arx0nt/Getty

In 2018, Weight Watchers officially became WW. During the re-brand, one of the biggest changes was the September 2018 announcement of brand articulation, shifting from Weight Watchers to WW and the introduction of the tagline "Wellness that Works."

"While we will never abdicate our position as a leader in weight management, we moved from focusing only on weight loss to a broader ambition around health and wellness, with the aim to be the world’s partner in wellness,” explains Jaclyn London, MS RD, CDN Head of Nutrition and Wellness at WW. “No matter what someone’s goal may be – to lose weight, eat healthier, move more, develop a helpful mindset, or all of the above – WW delivers science-based solutions that fit into their lives."

Find out more about this rebranding and the launch of myWW, the newest program that offers customized options to help with weight loss through greater engagement and behavior change.

How the myWW Program Works

In November 2019, WW announced its latest program, the customizable myWW program. The program is comprised of three options, all rooted in their original approach to weight loss and nutrition. This program is based on the SmartPoints system and ZeroPoint™ foods, which form the foundation for healthy eating patterns and are low-risk for overeating on their own.

The SmartPoints system assigns every food and drink a point value which is based on an equation that takes into account the calories, protein, sugar and saturated fat. On myWW you’ll get a personalized amount of Daily SmartPoints, plus some extra Weekly SmartPoints for those days when you need a cushion (like when you’re extra hungry or want an extra treat). Together, the Daily and Weekly SmartPoints make up your personalized SmartPoint Budget, which is also based on age, height, weight and gender to ensure your weight goals are met.

ZeroPoint™ foods are healthy, easy-to-have-on-hand foods that don’t count towards SmartPoints. The foods on the ZeroPoint™ foods list are foods that form the foundation of an overall healthy eating pattern. They don’t have to be weighed, measured or tracked. Healthy eating behaviors still apply, though, so WW encourages members to make the most of their ZeroPoint foods frequently, but not to see them as "all you can eat."

Each of the three myWW plans (listed below) has different foods that are designated as ZeroPoint foods, and the SmartPoints are adjusted accordingly, depending on how many there are. This is all organized by a simple color coding system. The color with the longest list of ZeroPoint™ foods has the lowest SmartPoints budget, and the one with the shortest list of ZeroPoint™ foods has the highest SmartPoints budget. Below is a list of the three myWW plans available:

  • Green guides people toward 100+ ZeroPoint™ foods (fruits and vegetables), with the largest SmartPoints Budget to spend on other foods they love.
  • Blue is based on 200+ ZeroPoint™ foods (fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins) to build meals around, with a smaller SmartPoints Budget. Current WW members will recognize this plan as WW Freestyle.
  • Purple is comprised of 300+ ZeroPoint™ foods (fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains) and a more modest SmartPoints Budget.

If, after a while, you realize you want more or less flexibility, you can always change colors (or plans). So why three plans? According to London, “We can meet more people's needs by creating a program that fits different eating patterns and behaviors, while providing them with the freedom and flexibility they need to successfully live the program.”

In addition, according to WW, there is an ongoing six-month clinical trial of the myWW program being conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Weight Management Center. At three months, researchers found that participants experienced numerous benefits including, on average, an 8% weight loss, 2% decrease in systolic blood pressure, 24% decrease in hunger, and 7% reduction in overall cravings.

Other WW Offerings

In order to help achieve your goals, WW has many offerings. This includes member access to science-backed topics and techniques including meal planning, social support, self-compassion, and creating an activity routine to help them meet their goals. In addition, the website and mobile app make searching for food easy so you can learn the SmartPoints value wherever you are. There is also a WW “Dining Out Guide” for members that contains information on meals at hundreds of restaurants and includes tips on making healthy restaurant substitutions. The WW app also includes a range of popular restaurants and SmartPoints values listed for menu items. There is also a WW community where you can connect to likeminded members. Groups are based on life stages, food, wellness journey, mindset, hobbies and activity. There is also 24/7 access to a live WW Coach and a WellnessWins member rewards program. Lastly, there are in-person local support groups that are led by a coach. Meetings are positive and many members enjoy sharing their weekly accomplishments and it’s a safe environment to share weekly setbacks.

How Much Does It Cost?

Membership options include a $19.95/month digital membership, which includes digital tools and a 24/7 chat service. Total access, which includes digital membership, workshops and personal coaching, costs $59.95/month. There are several other options also available on the WW site.

Is WW Right for You?

The myWW plan is certainly more flexible and is based on a well-balanced, varied diet, but there is a fairy steep learning curve to the program. You need to understand what SmartPoints and ZeroPoint™ foods are on your plan, and it will also take time to learn how to use the app, online forums and other programs that are available. If you travel, WW certainly makes it easier to make healthy choices on the road, and you can join a weekly meeting in-person anywhere in the country.

If you can afford the program, there are many useful tools to live a healthier lifestyle and/or lose weight that may be right for you. It is a program you need to commit to in order to reap all its benefits.

A Word About Kurbo

In August 2018, WW acquired Kurbo, a scientifically-proven, family-based healthy lifestyle program based in the U.S. Kurbo is derived from Stanford University’s Pediatric Weight Control Program and 30 years of clinical nutrition and behavioral modification research. The program’s personalized and data-driven mobile platform includes a mobile app and one-on-one health coaching to help children and teenagers, with support from their families, make lifestyle changes while receiving guidance around sustainable healthy eating, physical activity and mindfulness habits. It is the first program that has a lifestyle program for kids.

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