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35 How does Weight Watchers work?


This article is from the Diet FAQ, by Claudia McCreary cookignnewsletter@chef.net with numerous contributions by others.

35 How does Weight Watchers work?

Weight Watchers is a commercial diet organization that offers a variety of
eating plans and aids for weight loss. Members who follow the selection plan
(an exchange-type plan) are allowed to consume a certain number of servings
from each selection group (breads, fruits/vegetables, proteins/dairy, and
fats) each day. For example, if you've chosen to eat five bread selections
per day, you can choose five servings of any item categorized as a "bread,"
be it whole wheat bread, rice, a corn tortilla, or any of the other foods
that fall into the bread group. The number of selections you consume per
group per day depends on how fast you wish to lose weight; the program
recommends a maximum loss of 2 pounds per week. The selection plan allows
members to stray from the plan occasionally to accommodate special foods or
events, and a "Weekends Off" option permits less regulated eating on
weekends in exchange for smaller portions through the rest of the week.
The Weight Watchers 123 Success Plan was started in the US on August 24th,
1997. It gives all of the foods you eat a certain amount of points. You eat
the foods, add up the points and you are done for the day. Everybody is
given a different point range depending on their starting weight. They do
give you some nutritional guidelines, such as drinking 6, 8-oz glasses of
water a day, eating 5 fruits and vegtables, and having 2 milk products a
day. You are encouraged to do at least 20 minutes of exercise a day, and
for every 20 minutes after that, you can "earn" another point for your daily
total. You can carry unused points, (also known as "Banking your points")
from one day to the next.. But only after-you have consumed your minimum
points allocated for the day, in your point range are you allowed to bank
these unused points. If you don't use them by the end of the week, you lose
them. You are given a "sliding scale" that helps determine point values for
all foods with a nutritional label depending on fat grams, fiber and
calories. They have new cookbooks, a "points manager" calculator to help
figure out points, and other products to help make the plan even easier.
There has been a really positvie response to this plan because of the
flexibility. Members are happy because they can eat what they want, within
reason, and not worry as much about getting all of their fat, protein, and
bread selections each day. They just need to make sure they don't go above
their point allotment for the day.

The old plan "Fat and Fiber" was added in December 1994. Under this plan,
members are instructed to limit fat intake to between 15 and 35 grams daily
(men and youths can go up to 45 g/day), eat between 20-60 grams of fiber
daily, consume a minimum of 2 servings of dairy foods daily (3 servings for
youths), eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, and limit
intake of refined sugars and alcoholic beverages.
WW markets several types of processed foods, which are not necessarily lower
in calories than "regular" or other diet plan products, but are designed to
fit easily into the WW program; use of the WW brand foods is completely
optional. WW encourages moderate exercise in combination with the diet plan.
Each member sets his or her own goal weight based on a height/weight chart
compiled by WW from several sources. A big part of the WW plan is weekly
meetings, which feature a "weigh in" for each member (your weight is
revealed only to you and the person doing the weighing, not to the rest of
the group) and various activities such as motivational videos, discussions,
distribution of program materials and recipes, etc. Members who attain their
goal weights become "lifetime members," and can attend meetings for free so
long as they maintain their new weights. There is an initial membership fee
(~US$15-20, but low-cost or free specials are frequent), plus a fee for each
meeting attended (~US$9-12). The June 1993 isse of "Consumer Reports"
reported that the average cost for several months' participation in WW is
approximately US$110.

Weight Watchers has a Web site at http://www.weight-watchers.com/. There is
also a Weight Watchers mailing list, run by Michele Coleman
(coleman@leland.stanford.edu or owner-ww-support@lists.stanford.edu), which
is intended as a friendly place for people following the Weight
Watchers plan to exchange support and suggestions. To subscribe to the list,
send an e-mail message to majordomo@lists.stanford.edu, and put the command
"subscribe ww-support yourname@someplace.com" (without the quotes) on a line
by itself in the body of the message.


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