Is Weight Watchers Healthy?

WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) is one of the most popular diet plans out there. Find out if it’s right for you.

December 22, 2021
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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 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 Gary Foster, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer 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 the new PersonalPoints Program, the newest program launched in November 2021 that offers individualized options to help with weight loss through greater engagement and behavior change.

How the WW (Weight Watchers) PersonalPoints Program Works

The PersonalPoints Program is an individualized and doable program that helps with weight management and healthy living. The program is based on nutrition and behavior change science, and this latest programs makes reaching your wellness goals more attainable while allowing members to live their best, fullest lives. The WW PersonalPoints program has three elements that work hand-in-hand to allow for weight and wellness benefits.

Individualized plans, custom-built for each member: When signing up for WW, members complete a PersonalPoints Engine (a proprietary WW algorithm) that generates an individualized weight loss and wellness plan. Each member has their own unique PersonalPoints Budget with food and activity targets and their own ZeroPoint™ food lists, based on foods the love and can’t live without. The ZeroPoint foods don’t need to be tracked, weighed or measured.

The most advanced food algorithm to date: The WW Points system was updated for the first time since 2015 to include added sugar, unsaturated fat and fiber along with other nutrients. The algorithm is based on six components (verses the old algorithm was based on four) and had added fiber to help focus on fullness and unsaturated fat to help members recognize the importance of incorporating healthy fats into the diet. The algorithm also differentiates added sugar from natural sugar.

The ability to add PersonalPoints for healthy behaviors: Members can now add Points for practicing healthy behaviors that can hopefully turn into healthy habits. Behavioral science says that when people receive positive reinforcement for doing something, they are more likely to repeat it, and repetition creates habits. Members can earn more PersonalPoints by eating non-starchy veggies like carrots, tomatoes, spinach and broccoli, reaching a daily water goal, and moving more.

Other WW (Weight Watchers) Offerings

In order to help achieve your goals, WW has many additional 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. 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 the best menu options. 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 often change, so always check the website. As of December 2021, a 1-month membership costs $9.69 per week while a 3-month membership costs $3.38 per week. There are several other options also available on the WW site.

Is WW Right for You?

The PersonalPoint plan is individualized, more flexible and is based on a well-balanced, varied diet, but there is a learning curve to the program. You need to understand PersonalPoints and know your ZeroPoint™ food options, 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.

What Is 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.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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