What You Need to Know About Weight Watchers

The popular commercial diet program just unveiled a new points system. We’ve got all the details.

From soul singer Jennifer Hudson to, most recently, NBA great Charles Barkley, countless celebrities have endorsed Weight Watchers over the years. Recently named the best weight loss diet and easiest diet to follow by US News and World Report, the more than 40-year-old program just unveiled a new points system geared to help you make healthier choices.

We broke down the facts to help you decide if Weight Watchers is the diet for you.

What is Weight Watchers?
Weight Watchers is a commercial diet that helps people lose weight using online tools, weekly meetings, and a points system. People who join the program can leave as soon as they’ve met their desired weight, and you can sign up for weekly weigh-ins and meetings if you’re looking for some extra motivation.

How does it work?
“To break it down simply, everybody is given a PointsPlus daily target, based on height, weight, age, gender, and general activity level,” explains Beth Klein, a local blogger who lost 88 pounds with Weight Watchers. Every type of food has a value, so you want to aim for the foods that are worth the least points. Klein points out that fruits and vegetables carry zero points, so you can eat as many as you want without surpassing your daily target. The new points program encourages foods that are high in fiber and protein and low in foods that your body has to work harder to break down—those high in carbs and fat.

In addition, “for every activity you do, from housework to running to yoga, you earn activity points,” Klein says. “That’s just extra points you can eat in your day—though you don’t have to use them.”

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What are the perks?
No types of food are off-limits in this diet plan. The weekly meetings provide a welcoming and supportive environment, and the meeting leaders are people who have lost weight thanks to Weight Watchers, so they can offer their own experiences and tips to help you stay on track.

What are the risks or negatives?
There are no documented serious risks or side effects that have occurred from the program. The main downside may be the cost per month, which increased by $3 from last year to $42.95. That price includes unlimited weekly meetings, program materials, and use of online tools. If you just want to do the program online, it’s $48.90 for the first month and $18.95 each additional month.

How can I find out more?
Click on the links below, or head to one of the “housewarming party” events at various locations in Washington tomorrow.

Weight Watchers Official Web site

US News & World Report’s Weight Watchers breakdown
Beth’s Weight Watchers Link Roundup