In fact, you may even have tried it out for yourself in the past, or at least know someone who has.
Apparently, it’s the most popular diet in the world, which is a pretty amazing feat considering the choice available these days.
In 2011, 2 million turned to them for help with their diet, earning the company a hefty $1.7 billion dollars.
I’m talking, or course, about Weight Watchers.
For many, it’s the only way to lose weight, because they like the freedom to eat what they want, with the only limitation being the number of points each day.
Here in the UK, Channel 4 recently ran a program called, ‘Weight Watchers, How They Make Their Millions.’
It was pretty interesting, and gave an alternative view on the diet we are all so familiar with.
The TV program got me thinking about the Weight Watchers plan in a bit more depth.
As I’ve said in the past, while I agree Weight Watchers isn’t the worst diet plan out there (far from it!), I don’t believe they teach people enough about sustaining their weight loss long-term, which is probably why a lot of members find the pounds slipping back on, when they stop counting points.
1. Weight Watchers Scam: Research
Weight Watchers say they have many studies backing the effectiveness of their diet.
You might be persuaded by this claim when you check out their “Scientific Compendium.”
But, take a closer look.
The first problem is, that not all of the studies can be publicly accessed. Some are available only as an abstract. And others need to be purchased, if you want to read the study results in full.
While this isn’t very helpful for potential customers, wanting to research the effectiveness of the diet, it’s not unusual.
The main problem I have, though, is concerning Weight Watchers funding their own research.
It makes sense that companies want to prove their product is effective.
But nonetheless, you need to ask yourself ”Who benefits?” when you look at a piece of research.
I find it difficult to imagine that Weight Watchers are going to present anything other than skewed results when they’ve funded it themselves.
Researcher bias is always an issue with scientific studies, but when companies fund their own research, you need to take the results with an even bigger pinch of salt.
In one piece of research, Weight Watchers admitted;
The current sample comprises only the most successful Weight Watchers participants.
Strangely, this sounds like an admission of cherry picking.
2. Weight Watchers Scam: Cost Issues
While Weight Watchers don’t force members to use their products, it has to be said that encouraging the use of their branded products is always going to be pretty high on the agenda.
Don’t believe me?
Well, there are certain financial incentives for leaders, who get paid according to how many members attend their meetings each week, how many monthly passes they sell, and they also get 10% for products sold at their meetings.
Did you notice, there are no rewards for the number of pounds lost week after week?
Anyway, I digress! ;)
If you’ve never been to a Weight Watchers meeting, it usually consists of the weigh-in, followed by the leader giving a motivational talk.
But what I didn’t know, is that there is always a plethora of food products on display in the room somewhere, including Weight Watchers foods, digital kitchen scales, bathroom scales, pedometers, etc.
These are all available to purchase, and talked up by many of the leaders.
And, you can hardly blame them for doing so, considering the fact that meeting sales give a nice boost to their monthly takings.
The television program I watched, showed footage from inside these Weight Watchers meetings, where the leaders discussed avoiding unhealthy snacks at the Supermarket.
What didn’t make a lot of sense, though, was that similar Weight Watchers snacks were for sale at the side of the room.
These types of products are likely to be the very same convenience foods that caused the problem for many of those people in the first place, and clearly gives a very mixed message to members.
I find that extremely unhelpful!
But, perhaps you’re thinking that Weight Watchers products are probably a better option, so let’s do a comparison;
- 100g of Hovis bread has 6 points and costs £0.75p vs Weight Watchers bread, which has 7 points and costs £0.97p
- Walkers potato chips have 4 points, weigh 25g, and cost £0.26p vs Weight Watchers potato chips have 2 points, weigh 16g, and cost £0.36p
I know that’s only two products, but clearly Weight Watchers foods are not automatically the better option every time.
I’d say that’s a big surprise for many people, who often reach for Weight Watchers products over other items, thinking they’re making the healthier choice.
This once again demonstrates my ‘hobby horse‘ that you must always check the food label if you are to know for sure what you are putting into your body.
Better than that, just avoid these foods completely. Your body will thank you for it!
I can also see how easy it would be to get tied to the Weight Watchers products, because otherwise you’d have to go and work out the points of the alternative foods, and some people just won’t want to be bothered doing that.
But, what happens later on?
Do you simply keep on buying their products for life? If you do, it’s win-win for Weight Watchers International!
Cost of Weight Loss
Even more shocking is the cost of the program over the course of one year.
Let’s take the case study from the Dispatches program;
The lady lost a total of 7 pounds in one year;
- Her monthly membership cost £21.45/month = £257.40/year
- She also used 2-3 of the Weight Watchers products on a weekly basis. This was estimated at £455/year
- Total cost for the year = £712.40/year
- So, the program cost her £101.77 for each pound of weight lost
Seriously? Over $150 dollars per pound of weight loss??
Surely there has to be a better, more cost effective way to lose weight?
Perhaps it’s me that’s crazy, but that just doesn’t seem right!
3. Weight Watchers Scam: Unhealthy Ingredients
I also think Weight Watchers are more interested in calorie content, and not so much about good nutrition.
You’ll know already, I’m not in that way of thinking.
I’ll take whole, fresh foods, over prepackaged foods, any day of the week, even if they’re higher in saturated fat.
So, a program like Weight Watchers is not my idea of a good diet anyway.
But, even if you did want to go down the route of the Weight Watchers diet, I think you should take a closer look at some of their products and their vast ingredients list.
It might cause you to reconsider this diet.
I do understand that their foods are convenient, but please remember that just because you see the Weight Watchers label, it doesn’t equal a healthier option.
Let’s take ice cream as an example.
It’s not something I personally eat a lot, but when I do, I’d much rather have the full fat version, and less of it, than an inferior tasting ‘diet’ option.
Take the Weight Watchers Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream Cups, as one example.
That bad boy contains 28 ingredients, a lot of which are unpronounceable, and very few are natural or whole.
Here’s the list: Milk Fat, Milk Non-Fat, Sugar, Brownie Pieces (Wheat Flour Unbleached, Water, Sorbitol, Polydextrose, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Cocoa Natural, Malitol, Food Starch Modified, Sodium Bicarbonate Preservative, Butter Oil, Caramel Color, Potassium Sorbate Preservative, Salt, Sucralose, Flavor(s) Natural) , Polydextrose, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Cellulose Gel, Mono and Diglycerides, Cellulose Gum, Carrageenan, Maltodextrin, Polysorbate 80, Vitamin A Palmitate.
Phew! I must admit, I don’t know what half of those are there for.
Don’t even get me started on their Giant Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Bars with 50 ingredients… yes, you read that right.
I believe they have succeeded in complicating ice cream to a whole new level with this one. Well done Weight Watchers! :(
Compare this to Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream, which has 5 ingredients. Total!
Can you believe that? 28 vs 5.
Here’s the list: cream, skim milk, sugar, cocoa, and egg yolks.
That’s more like it! I could even attempt to make that in my own kitchen.
Personally, I’ll take my chances with the higher fat, less processed, much more delicious Haagen-Dazs version of this frozen treat. I really won’t be fighting you for your Weight Watchers version.
This is a clear representation of what I’ve discussed frequently in the past.
When you cut calories in a food, you must make up for it in other ingredients, such as copious amounts of sugar, salt, and other unpronounceables, to make it somewhat palatable.
Is the Weight Watchers Diet Healthy?
What gets me about all of this malarkey, is that Weight Watchers have the audacity to claim their weight loss program is “well balanced.”
Apparently, it encourages a healthy, well balanced diet, in line with national public health guidelines, and helps to ‘nudge’ people in the right direction towards making healthier and more satisfying choices.
I disagree. STRONGLY!
A healthy, well balanced diet is made up of whole, fresh foods that are close to nature. It does not contain food products with 50+ ingredients on a regular basis.
Please, don’t kid yourself that because you keep your eating within a certain points range each day that you are automatically eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Instead of worrying about counting points, why not try listening to your body for a change, and tune into your hunger levels. Then, eat healthy, whole foods in accordance to that, not according to your points allowance.
Please understand I am not dissing this program just for fun.
I honestly care very little for doing that.
What I do care about is helping people reach a weight they are happy with, and helping them stay there.
I also care that they actually feel better.
All of this can be achieved by following a healthy diet, that is simple and natural. You do not need products promoted by a company to achieve this.
Remember, it really doesn’t matter what diet plan you choose to follow, it won’t continue to work if you stop following it.
So, that means you need to find something you can do for life, and stick with it.
I really do wish you every success in doing that!