# Weight Watchers

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Weight Watchers

Infobox_Company
company_name = Weight Watchers International, Inc.
company_
company_type = Public
company_slogan = “Stop Dieting. Start Living.”
foundation = 1963
New York, New York 10010
key_people = David P. Kirchhoff, President & CEO
Thilo Semmelbauer, COO
products = Weight loss
num_employees = 46,000 (as of 2003)
homepage = [http://www.weightwatchers.com www.weightwatchers.com]

Weight Watchers (nyse|WTW) is an international company that offers various dieting products and services to assist weight loss and maintenance. Founded in 1963 by Brooklyn homemaker Jean Nidetch, it now operates in about 30 countries around the world, generally under names that are local translations of “Weight Watchers”.

Weight Watchers has a minimum weight requirement (based on a member’s height) to protect those who are not actually overweight. In the United States, one must be at least convert|5|lb over this minimum weight in order to establish a lower goal weight. Height and beginning weight are recorded before a goal weight is set. Members may choose any weight that results in a BMI generally accepted as healthy (25 to 20), ["citation needed"] or a member may bring a note from his/her physician stating what a healthy weight for the individual would be.

Once a member reaches his or her goal weight, he or she starts a maintenance period. For the following six weeks, the member is taught how to maintain the goal weight by not losing or gaining. At this time they become “Lifetime” members. A Lifetime member must weigh in at least once per calendar month. If the member weighs more than convert|2|lb over the goal weight at a “weigh-in”, he/she will be charged the weekly fee, until he/she again obtains a weight within the target range. If a Lifetime member stays within that range, there is no fee for attending weekly meetings, and they may attend for the rest of their life.

Weight Watchers’ "eTools" is a Web-based service for meetings members which includes access to support materials and tracking tools for a fee. Weight Watchers claims “Research shows that people who attend Weight Watchers meetings lose three times more weight than [those who diet on their own] .”cite web
url= http://www.weightwatchers.com/templates/print.aspx?PageId=1064291&Print

title= The Benefits of a Supportive Environment
accessdate= 2008-06-07
author= The Weight Watchers Research Dept.
date=
year= 2008
month=
work=
publisher= Weight Watchers International
doi=
archiveurl=
archivedate=
quote= Research has found that those who attend Weight Watchers meetings lose three times more weight than those who try to lose weight on their own.
] cite web
url= http://www.weightwatchers.com/international/bahamas/meetings/
title= Weight Watchers - Bahamas
accessdate= 2008-06-07
date=
year= 2007
month=
work=
publisher= Weight Watchers International
doi=
archiveurl=
archivedate=
quote= Research shows that people who attend Weight Watchers meetings lose three times more weight than those who diet on their own.
] cite web
url= http://www.weightwatchers.com/images/1033/dynamic/GCMSImages/WW_EE_LMV.pdf
title= Open Enrollment
accessdate= 2008-06-07
last= Broughton
first= Sherri
year= 2006
month= July
format= Portable Document Format
work=
publisher= Weight Watchers International
pages= 1
doi=
archiveurl=
archivedate=
quote= Research shows that people who attend Weight Watchers® meetings lose three times more weight than people dieting on their own [.]
] cite web
url= http://www.weightwatchers.com/images/1033/dynamic/GCMSImages/Fact_Sheet_for_employers.pdf
title= Sell Sheet
accessdate= 2008-06-07
author=
last=
first=
coauthors=
year= 2005
month= October
format= Portable Document Format
work=
publisher= Weight Watchers International
pages= 1
doi=
archiveurl=
archivedate=
quote= It’s been proven that attending meetings leads to successful weight loss. Research shows that people who attend Weight Watchers meetings lose three times more weight than people dieting on their own.
] However, the results of the study were that the mean weight loss of Weight Watchers participants was 2.3 times more than (3.3 times as much as) the self-help group at one year, and essentially undefined at two years.cite journal
quotes = no
author = Heshka, Stanley
coauthors = Anderson, James W.; Atkinson, Richard L.; Greenway, Frank L.; Hill, James O.; Phinney, Stephen D.; Kolotkin, Ronette L.; Miller-Kovach, Karen; Pi-Sunyer, F. Xavier
date = 2003-04-09
title = “Weight Loss With Self-help Compared With a Structured Commercial Program: A Randomized Trial”
journal = JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
volume = 289
issue = 14
pages = 1792–1798
publisher = American Medical Association
location =
pmid =12684357
pmc =
doi = 10.1001/jama.289.14.1792
bibcode =
oclc =
id =
url = http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/289/14/1792
accessdate = 2008-06-06
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
quote = ... [M] ean (SD) weight loss... in the commercial group was greater than in the self-help group at 1 year (-4.3 [6.1] kg vs -1.3 [6.1] kg, respectively...) and at 2 years (-2.9 [6.5] kg vs -0.2 [6.5] kg, respectively...).
] Weight Watchers also claims that members who both use Weight Watchers’ Web-based eTools and attend meetings lose half again as much weight as those who only attend meetings, but it fails to cite a study to back up this claim, instead only referring to an unspecified “12 week study comparing people who were instructed to attend Weight Watchers meetings and use eTools to people who were instructed to attend Weight Watchers meetings alone”.cite web
url= http://www.weightwatchers.com/plan/www/etools_01.aspx
title= eTools, the Internet companion
accessdate= 2008-06-07
author=
date=
year= 2008
month=
work=
publisher= Weight Watchers International
doi=
archiveurl=
archivedate=
quote= People who both attend Weight Watchers meetings and use eTools lose over 50% more weight on average than those who attend weekly meetings alone. ...Weight loss data based on 12 week study comparing people who were instructed to attend Weight Watchers meetings and use eTools to people who were instructed to attend Weight Watchers meetings alone.
]

"Weight Watchers Online" is a more independent approach for people who prefer not to attend meetings. The support system for Weight Watchers Online is a message board where members can post support and share advice.

In some areas Weight Watchers meetings are operated by a locally-franchised organization rather than by Weight Watchers International.cite web
url= http://www.wwphl.com
accessdate= 2008-06-07
author=
last=
first=
coauthors=
date=
year=
month=
doi=
archiveurl=
archivedate=
quote= This website is operated by Weight Watchers of Philadelphia, Inc. [punctuation sic] a franchise of Weight Watchers International, Inc.
]

Weight loss plans

In the United States

Varying by location, Weight Watchers generally offers two programs:

The Core Plan

In part as a response to the popularity of plans like Atkins and South Beach, Weight Watchers has recently developed a separate plan, known as the Core Plan. This plan classifies certain types of food as “core”, and permits participants to eat core foods with the restriction that they should only eat these foods until satisfied, not full, to stay within their comfort zones. They do not have to weigh, measure, or track the core foods they eat. Core foods are healthy foods from all the “food groups”, ["citation needed"] including fruits, vegetables, fat-free dairy, lean meats, and whole grains. Participants in the Core plan may also consume non-core foods, and these are assigned the usual point values. Participants are allotted up to 35 points per week for non-core foods. With exercise, participants can also “earn” points to “spend” on non-core foods.

The Flex Plan

Under this plan, participants are allotted a number of points each day based on their gender, height, current weight, age and physical activity. The number of points allotted may be increased with sufficient exercise, as in the Core Plan. Participants are allotted 35 “flex points” per week in addition to their fixed daily allotments, and they may use these any time during each weekly cycle.

The Flex plan is, in essence, a simple way to quantify and track a participant’s energy intake and expenditure. Various servings of foods are assigned specific numbers of points, and various types and quantities of exercise are assigned negative numbers of points; a program participant is allocated a certain number of points per day, with that number based on the individual’s current weight.

The effect of this is that the participant is not prevented from eating any specific type of food, but he/she must consume foods only with his/her allotment of points. This stands in marked contrast to approaches such as the South Beach diet or the Atkins diet, in which some foods are completely forbidden and others are permitted in as great a quantity as the dieter likes. The participant’s ability to factor exercise into Weight Watchers’ plans increases their flexibility; the participant can eat food of higher points values provided he offsets this with exercise, or eat food of lower points value if he prefers not to exercise.

Many Weight Watchers proponents enjoy the Flex Plan precisely because no food is out of bounds as long as it is eaten in moderation, and because exercise can be factored in. ["citation needed"] (In the UK, Weight Watchers advertises under the slogan “Where no food is a sin”; this is a reference to its chief competitor Slimming World’s system of giving some food “sin” values.) Others, however, dislike the record-keeping that the plan requires of the participant, who must keep track of the points values of everything they eat; they prefer Weight Watchers’ Core Plan or other plans that place restrictions on types of food rather than quantities.

TurnAround

In August 2004, Weight Watchers introduced the TurnAround® program, incorporating parts of the Points and Core food plans, but intended to assist people in developing an overall healthy lifestyle. Aside from encouraging healthy eating and providing member support, the program encourages participants to follow eight “Good Health Guidelines”. ["citation needed"]

In the UK, Ireland and Australia

In the UK and Ireland there are two plans, called “The Points Plan” and “The Core Plan”. They essentially correspond to the Flex and Core Plans in the US, except that the Points Plan omits the 35 “flex” points per week allotted in the “Flex” plan, and the UK/Irish Core Plan only allots 21 points per week outside of the Core diet. In “The Points Plan”, one may eat fewer points daily than are allotted based on sex, weight, age, height, pregnancy status, and activity level and “spend” these points later within the week.

Effectiveness

A clinical study involving Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers and The Zone diets, published in 2005, reported that among the Weight Watchers participants the average net weight loss in a one-year period was convert|3.0|kg. ["citation needed"] However, the study only included two months of “maximum effort”, letting the participants decide their level of adherence for the following ten months. ["citation needed"] Weight Watchers was the third most effective diet in terms of weight loss, and those that continued to adhere to any of the diets significantly decreased cardiac risk factors.cite journal
quotes = no
author = Dansinger, Michael L.
coauthors = Gleason, Joi Augustin; Griffith, John L.; Selker, Harry P.; Schaefer, Ernst J.
date = 2005-01-05
title = “Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, Weight Watchers, and Zone Diets for Weight Loss and Heart Disease Risk Reduction: A Randomized Trial”
journal = JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association
volume = 293
issue = 1
pages = 43–53
publisher = American Medical Association
location =
pmid =15632335
pmc =
doi = 10.1001/jama.293.1.43
bibcode =
oclc =
id =
url = http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/293/1/43
accessdate = 2008-06-07
laysummary =
laysource =
laydate =
quote =
]

Price

Like many other weight loss programs, Weight Watchers frequently offers promotions ranging from free registration to discounted fees if paid in advance. Members are required to pay the fees for missed meetings before a “weigh-in”, but a member never pays more for missed meetings than the amount of the new-member registration fee; if a member misses several consecutive meetings, he/she need only pay either the sum of the fees for the missed meetings or the new-member registration fee, whichever is the lesser. ["citation needed"]

“Points” formulas

The current formula for calculating the value of a specific serving in points is proprietary and available only to members.Fact|date=November 2007 Some simply use the earlier formula described in US patent|6040531 instead:

:$p\left(c,f,r\right) = mathrm\left\{round\right\} left\left( frac\left\{c\right\}\left\{50\right\} + frac\left\{f\right\}\left\{12\right\} - frac\left\{min\left\{r,4\left\{5\right\} ight\right)$

where $p$ is the number of points, $c$ is the amount of energy in Calories (1 Calorie (Cal) ≡ 1 kilocalorie (kcal) ≈ 4.2 kilojoules (kJ)), $f$ is the amount of fat in grams, and min{$r$,4} is the lesser of the amount of dietary fiber in grams or four. [cite web
url= http://www.alanlight.com/WWPoints.htm
title= Weight Watchers Points Formula
accessdate= 2008-07-29
author=
last=
first=
coauthors=
year= 2005
month= October
format=
work=
publisher=
pages=
doi=
archiveurl=
archivedate=
quote=
] The value is always an integer, with fractional values rounded to the nearest point. An alternative version mentioned in the patent and used on some Web sites rounds values to the nearest half-point.

Calculation aids

New members are given a cardboard slide rules to assist in calculating point values of foods. By reading the nutrition label on any food package and quickly adjusting three slide-rule scales for energy, fat, and fiber, the point value is easily determined by inspection of a fourth scale. Weight Watchers also sells an electronic calculator that performs the same function.

Weight Watchers also sells small paperback book that lists thousands of foods sold by fast-food and full-service restaurant chains as well as generic restaurant foods, e.g. “Mexican: refried beans, ½ cup” (120 mL), and corresponding point values. This is useful in cases where precise nutritional data are not available.

Alternative formulas

An early version of the points system did not limit the fiber “credit” to four grams. Another variation, which may be explained by rounding, is that the “points finder” slide-rule distributed at Weight Watchers meetings does not reach a value of 1 unless an item has at least convert|70|Cal|sigfig=1|lk=on, rather than convert|50|Cal|sigfig=1|abbr=on as the formula indicates. As a result, point boundaries are convert|20|Cal|sigfig=1 or 4.8 grams of fat higher than might be expected. Though the patent mentions possibly using convert|70|Cal|sigfig=1|abbr=on rather than convert|50|Cal|sigfig=1|abbr=on as the single-point baseline, that method may be intended for use by dieters who do not use fiber content to calculate point values.

More recent versions of the program, such as that described in US patent|6878885, take exercise and physical activity into account to grant additional points in the daily allowance.

Use outside the US

Outside the United States, nutrition labels are markedly different from those in the United States; in particular, energy is usually expressed in standard kilojoules (kJ) rather than Calories (kcal), and labels in some countries may not show fiber content. The points formula for some markets is based on energy (in kilojoules) and "saturated" (not "total") fat. This formula is expressed in UK patent 2302605 as follows:

:$p = frac\left\{e\right\}\left\{k_1\right\} + frac\left\{f\right\}\left\{k_2\right\}$

Where $p$ is the number of points, $e$ is the energy value (in either kilojoules (kJ) or Calories (kcal)), and $f$ is the amount of saturated fat in grams. The constants $k_1$ and $k_2$ are described as follows: $k_1$ is chosen so that the points target will be in the low tens. If the energy value is given in Calories, then $k_2$ will be within the range of $k_1$35 and $k_1$10, ideally $k_1$17.5. If the energy value is given in kilojoules, then the value of $k_2$ will be between $k_1$146.7 and $k_1$41.8, ideally being $k_1$72.8.

A practical implementation of this formula for a kilojoule-based calculation appears to be as follows:

:$p = frac\left\{e\right\}\left\{200\right\} + frac\left\{f\right\}\left\{4.12\right\}$

or the following for a Calorie-based calculation:

:$p = frac\left\{e\right\}\left\{66\right\} + frac\left\{f\right\}\left\{4.12\right\}$

The resultant value $p$ is then rounded to the nearest half.

pokespersons

* Perhaps the most prominent celebrity endorser for Weight Watchers is Sarah, Duchess of York (“Fergie”).
* Jenny McCarthy recently appeared in a commercial for Weight Watchers after successfully losing her post-pregnancy weight, attributing this to following the program.

Corporate information

Corporate history

From 1978 until 1999, Weight Watchers was owned by the H. J. Heinz Company, which continues to produce packaged foods bearing the Weight Watchers brand (and with point values clearly identified). Weight Watchers was acquired in a leveraged buyout in 1999 and went public in 2001.

Corporate governance

The current members of the board of directors of Weight Watchers are Philippe Amouyal, John Bard, Raymond Debbane, Marsha Evans, Jonas Fajgenbaum, Linda Huett, Sacha Lainovic, Sam K. Reed, and Christopher Sobecki.

ee also

* American Dietetic Association

References

* [http://www.weightwatchers.com Weight Watchers’ official Web site]

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### Look at other dictionaries:

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