Weight Watchers: What You Need to Know


While Weight Watchers has helped many people lose weight, the program has its drawbacks and isn't right for everybody.

Online membership cost is somewhere between $18 and $22 per month, and you may have to pay additional sign-up fees when you join. While attending live meetings and having an online membership would get pricy, the online offerings are generally offered as a substitute for the real thing, so there wouldn't be much need to have memberships to both. However, if you did have an online membership and regularly attended meetings, it could cost from $680 to $940 a year. This definitely isn't a program for someone who's not serious about losing weight and committed to accomplishing weight loss through the Weight Watchers system.

To its credit, Weight Watchers does allow just about anyone to join. However, if you're under age 17, you need a doctor's note to attend meetings. Pregnant women and children younger than 10 are forbidden, as are people with bulimia nervosa or who only weigh 5 pounds (about 2.3 kilograms) above the recommended weight for their height.

The PointsPlus™ system is a change from Weight Watchers' previous points program, meaning anyone who was familiar with the old system had to learn a new points-counting system.

Another drawback to Weight Watchers is the commitment of time. In addition to weekly meetings, you must track all of your food choices and count food points in order to make Weight Watchers' system work. This may be too time-consuming for some, but for others, it may create a level of commitment conducive to losing weight.

As is the case when making any major dietary or lifestyle change, you should check with your doctor if you have any health conditions or concerns before joining Weight Watchers.

For lots more information about Weight Watchers, see the next page.

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  • Kirchhoff, David. "A Message from David Kirchhoff, President, Weight Watchers International." Weight Watchers. 2011. (April 27, 2011)http://www.weightwatchers.com/about/his/hello.aspx
  • Melanson, Kathleen J. and Joshua Lowndes. "Type 2 Diabetes Risk Reduction in Overweight and Obese Adults Through Multidisciplinary Group Sessions: Effects of Meeting Attendance." American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. May 20, 2010. (April 22, 2011)http://ajl.sagepub.com/content/4/3/275.abstract
  • Rowe, Michael R. et al. "Weight-loss maintenance 1, 2 and 5 years after successful completion of a weight-loss programme." British Journal of Nutrition. Oct. 9, 2007. (April 22, 2011)http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=1789920
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