Weight Watchers makes its point

Summer is here, and as it is no longer possible to hide under coats and sweaters, this is the time to diet.

Weight Watchers (photo credit: Thinkstock)
Weight Watchers
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
Weight Watchers Israel is launching the Points Plus method. Developed by professionals in the fields of nutrition, psychology, sociology, physiology and women’s health, it was clinically tested and found to be safe and effective.
In the past, Weight Watchers’ points method focused on saturated fat, calories and portion size to determine the points of each food item. Today, it is understood that counting calories during the weight-loss process is not enough on its own. With the new method, it isn’t the calories that are the leading factor in the food’s influence on weight but rather the make-up of carbohydrates, fat, protein and fibers in the food. These are the new criteria in Weight Watchers’ Points Plus formula, which is based on the understanding that the effect food has on the weight-loss process depends on the way the body breaks down the various nutrients.
For instance, the body expends more energy in breaking down protein and fiber and less energy in breaking down fat. These aspects influence the weight-loss process.
At Weight Watchers, every food product is marked with its Points Plus value. Foods rich in fat “cost” more points than foods that are low in fat, and the same is true for carbohydrates. Similarly, foods rich in protein and/or nutritional fiber have a lower point value compared with parallel foods with smaller quantities of these nutrients.
In light of these facts, a category was defined for “preferable foods” –“super foods” in the new method. These are foods that are richer in fiber and relatively low in fat, sugar and sodium. They were selected in accordance with the nutritional recommendations of the health unions in Israel and abroad. Building this category helps members of Weight Watchers make the right decisions and thereby succeed in losing weight while feeling full and taking care of their body’s health. The new eating approach considers the psychological and social factors that play a part in the process of losing weight. Therefore, additional budgets and techniques were developed to ease the process: Every Weight Watchers member is given an individual daily budget, calculated according to gender, age, height and initial weight.
The organizers of Weight Watchers understand that the feelings of guilt that follow the “defeats” in the weight-loss process have a negative influence on its progress and result in a sense of failure and adopting extreme eating habits characterized by breaking the diet’s framework, overeating and giving up on the weight-loss process. For this reason, a special weekly budget has been developed, which members can refer to when they eat beyond their daily budgets. This prevents those pangs of conscience, and the process continues without interruptions.
Vegetables are marked with 0 points to encourage members to eat them. And in the new method, three fresh fruits a day are also worth 0 points plus. This way, members eat more of the fruits and choose them over snacks that are costly in points. This is a revolutionary method of encouraging healthy and satisfying eating habits. Fruits that are worth 0 points allow participants to increase the quantity of food they consume daily without paying with extra points.
Weight Watchers always encouraged members to exercise on a regular basis, but many did not succeed in implementing the fitness recommendations. In response, the Activity Points Plus system was developed: The members work out and collect points, which can be converted into food, to mitigate the weight-loss process. In the new plan, exercise is not just a recommendation. Members are asked to gain 14 activity points plus from the start.
The Points Plus plan, which includes the formula and various tools detailed above, has proven to significantly help the weight-loss process, and this has been confirmed in research. A study published in a leading scientific journal in 2011 presents a comparison between the Weight Watchers weight-loss method and standard nutritional consultation. The study shows that those who participated in Weight Watchers’ weight-loss plan lost twice as much weight. The study reinforces the fact that a comprehensive system that provides participants with advice on eating the right quantities for losing weight, group support, encouragement to exercise and motivation leads to successful weight loss.