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Weight Watchers: What You Need to Know

        Health | Diets

Meetings
A client walks towards an entrance to a Weight Watchers meeting location May 18, 2004, in Arlington Heights, Illinois. With thousands of meetings around the country -- and the world -- dieters are able to find the support they need when they need it.
A client walks towards an entrance to a Weight Watchers meeting location May 18, 2004, in Arlington Heights, Illinois. With thousands of meetings around the country -- and the world -- dieters are able to find the support they need when they need it.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Meetings are a primary part of Weight Watchers (and a large source of the company's income), and they're offered in two forms: Weight Watchers meetings and online meetings.

Weight Watchers meetings are held around the world, and there's likely one -- if not several -- in or near your zip code. Meetings can also be established at a place of employment.

Meetings last about 45 minutes, and they usually begin with each person receiving a private and confidential weigh-in. A trained group leader, someone who's had prior and continuing success with Weight Watchers, leads the meeting. The group leader will help you set a goal for your weight loss (most new members usually start with a goal of losing 5 percent of their body weight), and will help you mark your progress at the weigh-in that starts each meeting.

The meetings are centered on discussions moderated by the group leader. Attendees can participate in the discussions or sit back and listen. The topic changes, though it always deals with issues related to weight loss, such as methods for tracking Weight Watchers points or how to overcome "stress eating." The group's leader and members share different strategies, allowing attendees to pick up tips and tricks that have worked for others.

The purpose of meetings is to provide an atmosphere of support, guidance and accountability. You can pay per meeting, or sign up for a monthly pass that allows you to attend unlimited meetings. Other deals on meeting packages are frequently offered. Weekly meetings cost somewhere between $9 and $13.

A study showed that Weight Watchers meetings helped reduce the risk of diabetes, and that the more meetings dieters went to, the healthier they were [source: Melanson].

Weight Watchers' online service offers around 1,500 recipes, a meal tracker, exercise-related videos and articles, and an online forum that allows you to connect with other dieters.

A study of lifetime members who had successfully lost weight showed that nearly 80 percent kept lost weight off one year later, and 50 percent kept it off for at least five years [Rowe et al].

Next, we'll talk about what you need to know about the drawbacks to Weight Watchers.