By Melinda Maryniuk, MEd, RD, CDCES
We review several different eating approaches in our “Dietitian’s Review” series with the goal of helping people who are looking to evolve their eating style towards better health. It’s important to emphasize that “going on a diet” is very rarely associated with long-term success with weight. We provide these reviews for anyone who wants to improve their health and is looking for an eating approach that will best fit their lifestyle and preferences.
WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) is a commercial weight-loss program that has been in existence for over 50 years. WW is the #1 ranked best diet for weight loss in U.S. News & World Report (2018) and does not require “special” food. Group meetings are no longer required (although they’re still available) and online options are now featured. A personalized menu plan is recommended based on a SmartPoints® system. No foods are off limits, but points do need to be counted. Members are encouraged to exercise and similar to the food points system, WW has a system called FitPoints™ to track activity.
What foods does this diet focus on?
By joining WW, members receive instructions on a personal meal plan and access to online resources and over 4,000 recipes. Recent updates to the program have increased the list of zeroPoints® food to include lean poultry, fish, veggies, fruits, corn, beans, and eggs. Participants are encouraged to eat more of the healthy choices and learn to enjoy sweets and high calorie foods as less frequent treats in moderate portions. WW sells a line of prepared meals (Smart Ones) but they are optional.
Is it effective?
Yes. WW is one of the most well studied weight loss programs. It has been shown to be effective both for weight loss and cost savings (by reducing risks of other health problems). It also has been shown effective in treating pre-diabetes and reducing risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
What are some pros and cons?
Pros: Outstanding reputation. All foods can fit. Encouragement and support comes from trained coaches who have been successful at WW themselves.
Cons: Must join and pay a starter fee (about $20) and a weekly or monthly membership fee.
What do I buy at the grocery store?
Note: There are many approaches to weight loss that can be successful for people. My Weight– What to Know does not recommend a particular diet, but is happy to share facts about a variety of approaches. As with all meal planning approaches, regular exercise is recommended.
Eating a healthy diet and being active are both really important for being healthy, but for many people diet and exercise alone aren’t enough to help them reach their weight-loss goals. If this sounds familiar, read this fascinating article about what to do when diet and exercise aren’t getting you to where you want to be.
UPDATE: A recent study from the NIH suggests that a diet high in ultra-processed foods led to overeating and weight gain. Watch a Facebook Live episode that covers what to know about ultra-processed foods here:
To find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.
To sign up for our free online class that covers the basics of how to reach a healthier weight, click here.