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Founded in the early 1960s, Weight Watchers is one of the most successful diet organizations in existence, with members numbering in the millions. One survey of successful dieters found that many used organized programs such as Weight Watchers to lose weight. People are most satisfied with Weight Watchers if they enjoy having regular support meetings to attend, or engaging in online community, and the traditional food plan may appeal to those who find it useful to learn a system for keeping track of food eaten throughout the day. Both food plans can be adapted for people with specific needs, such as vegetarians, teenagers, and breast-feeding mothers.
The diet resembles the typical low-fat, “heart healthy” diet advocated by many governmental and professional organizations. Group meetings often help a weight-loss program to succeed by offering dieters practical advice, consistent motivation, accountability to their weight loss commitment, and the chance to share experiences with other like-minded people. Preliminary research suggests that participating in Weight Watchers is more effective than a “do-it-yourself” diet program, and that long-term weight maintenance may be more successful with Weight Watchers than is reported for most dieters.
Though health and nutrition professionals design the Weight Watchers program, individuals are not offered professional guidance; instead they must rely on printed materials, group leaders, and other members for advice and problem solving. A recent report suggested that while dieters using Weight Watchers for a full year lost an average of 5% of their body weight, other dieters using Atkins, Zone, or very-low-fat diets lost the same amount. Therefore, the cost of membership in Weight Watchers, while not as high as some other commercial programs, might seem unnecessary when other weight-loss plans may be available either free or for the price of a single book.
Furthermore, regular weigh-ins at group meetings may make some people uncomfortable, and some health authorities believe that focusing on weight instead of overall health can lead to unhealthy dieting practices. Weight watchers does, however, offer their program completely online, which allows people to participate in the program without the face-to-face weekly weigh-ins.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.