Monday, March 12, 2007

Weight Watchers - The Good & Bad Points

What is Weight Watchers and what are its benefits and consequences? The Weight Watchers system was initially started in the 60’s by Jean Nidetch as a discussion group covering the best ways to go about losing weight. Since then, the Weight Watchers name has become internationally recognized as a hallmark of dieting approaches.

The Weight Watchers plan has two different programs depending on the location. The most common program is the POINTS program. This approach is characterized by one assigning points to various foods and physical activities that, in order to achieve the desired results, can’t exceed the weekly point limit. The more grams of fat, the higher the point value, the more grams of fiber, the lower the point value. The weekly point requirement is simply dictated by the client’s current weight and weight loss goals. The only acceptable reason one could eat more points than the weekly requirement is if regular exercise is to be had.

By approaching dieting this way, one learns not to restrict any one kind of food like every other diet on the block, but to develop a sense of balance. This approach leaves the client accountable and this accountability is what makes the diet admirable in it’s real world application and undesirable for those without willpower. In their case, eating too of the wrong things would leave their points in the red with not much else being able to be consumed without eating too many calories.

Another program utilized by Weight Watchers is what they call the Core Plan. This approach is Weight Watchers’ answer to Atkins and South Beach but with more freedom. This plan labels certain foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fat free dairy, and whole grains as being “core” foods and these are recommended as long as they are not had in excessive amounts. Eat until satisfied, no more. Foods that fall outside of this are still given point values and clients are still allowed to eat as much as 35 non-core food points a week.

So, does Weight Watchers work. Yes, it does actually. The only problem is how quickly do you need it to work. According to a study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who followed Weight Watchers’ POINTS program for two years only lost 6 pounds on average. Even those that attended regular meetings shared similar results.

So, if one needs to only lose a few, then try it, but if the doctor is ordering you to lose the weight as soon as possible, don’t go calling Weight Watchers. The good thing is that nutritional deficiencies are really almost unheard of for close adherents to the Weight Watchers program. Most other diets come up short nutritionally since they are so restrictive.

One final detraction from the diet is its tedious nature. One must almost obsess over points in order for any leeway to be made, so, that can be a bit bothersome. All in all, I would recommend this diet, but only for those that have a little bit left to go and want to lose the weight right. Otherwise, results seem to come a bit slower in respect to the amount of effort that goes in.