Weight Watchers (WW) is a plan that helps you make good food choices and be active. The SmartPoints system gives each food, drink, and WW recipe a value. You get points to use each day based on your needs.
The goal is to lose 1 to 2 lbs (pounds) (0.5-0.9 kg [kilogram]) each week.
How Might This Work?
You will learn how to make better food choices using SmartPoints, a program to keep track of your food intake. SmartPoints looks at the amounts of
that a food has. The best foods are ones that:
- Make your body work harder to process, so you take in fewer calories
- Are high in nutrients, so you feel fuller and more satisfied
- Are natural and do not have added sugar and fats
You can still have a treat once in a while, eat at a special event, or go out to dinner when you use this plan.
Your daily points is based on the amount of energy your body needs to lose weight based on things like your gender, age, height, and weight. You can break down your points by breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. WW has lots of meals with the points figured out, like a serving of lasagna (worth 6 points) or grilled chicken salad (8 points).
Counting points is a big part of the program, but WW also wants you to be active.
The first step is to decide whether to go to meetings in person or do the program online.
Someone who has had success with WW leads the weekly meetings. At the first meeting, you will be weighed (in private), make goals with the leader, and learn the basics. The leader talks about new topics each week and offers tips. People in the group help one other by talking about their progress and sharing tips.
The online program also makes weight-loss goals. But you can use the program from your computer or mobile phone. There are online tools to track food choices, activities, and weight. You also can use the WW nutritional database, recipes, restaurant guides, exercise routines, and fitness demos.
Weight loss needs may differ between men and women. WW designed eTools for men who would like to go to the weekly meetings. There is also an online program that features guides, meals, and workout routines for men.
What Does the Research Say?
Some studies support WW. One study found that dieters who followed the WW program lost more weight than the group who tried to slim down on their own. Another large study with overweight adults found that the dieters who followed the WW program lost twice as much weight after 12 months than the group who had standard care from their doctors.
Are There Any Concerns?
You will need to track your SmartPoints, workouts, and weight. People who like using the computer or mobile phone may not mind logging in to enter data. Others may not like doing this. WW does offer a plan called Simply Filling. It is about eating nutritious and filling foods without tracking points.
The monthly cost may be too much for some people. You must also buy all of the groceries. They often have specials, but it may cost about $24 a month for the in-person meetings or the online program. There may also be a one-time sign-up fee.
WW is a healthy, long-term way to lose weight. The focus is on getting support, learning how to make better food choices, and being active. The goal is to lose weight over time through healthy habits.
Ahern AL, Olson AD, Aston LM, Jebb SA. Weight Watchers on prescription: an observational study of weight change among adults referred to Weight Watchers by the NHS. BMC Public Health. 2011;11(1):434.
Diets for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/management/diets-for-weight-loss. Updated February 20, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2019.
Jebb S, Ahern A, Aston L. Primary care referral to a commercial provider for weight loss treatment versus standard care: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2011;378(9801):1485-1492.
A man's plan for weight loss and healthy habits. WW Reimagined website. Available at: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/men. Accessed June 18, 2019.
Plans. WW Reimagined website. Available at: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/plans/meetings. Accessed June 18, 2019.
What will you eat on our plan? WW Reimagined website. Available at: https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/food. Accessed June 18, 2019.
Last reviewed June 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 1/29/2020