Counting points. Commercials filled with smiling women of all shapes and sizes. Miranda attending a weight loss support group in Sex and the City, circa 2002. What do all of these things have in common? One iconic company: WeightWatchers.
WeightWatchers was founded in 1963 by homemaker Jean Nidetch. Jean lived in Queens, New York, and like many women of her time, she’d tried a variety of meal plans, fad diets, medications and even hypnosis, in an effort to lose weight. While attempting yet another diet, Jean created a support group in her own apartment, with other friends on their own weight loss journeys. Jean introduced the “Prudent Diet”, a nutritional plan promoted by the New York City Board of Health, to her group, and over time built a community providing, support, empathy and understanding with each other as they shared a mutual goal of achieving a healthier lifestyle.
Jean grew these weekly meetings to multiple groups across locations, and further developed the overall concept with celebratory milestones and weekly check ins. One group meeting took place in the home of Al and Felice Lippert. After finding their own success with Jean’s program, Al Lippert, a businessman in the garment industry, approached Jean with the idea to monetize, scale and grow her concept. And so, WeightWatchers was born.
At its core, WeightWatchers has always been about helping people achieve their health and wellness goals, which can include achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Over the years, this legacy brand has evolved to focus on areas of health beyond nutrition. Now, WW has expanded to cover sleep, hydration, mindset and movement.
Today in 2022, WeightWatchers is not about deprivation, but education: with knowledge about nutrition and wellness at the core of the iconic company’s revamped and redesigned programs. For the first time since 2015, WeightWatchers has updated its awarding-winning Points system to account for added sugar, unsaturated fat and fibre in addition to other nutrients, as well as the idea of earning points for healthy behaviours. This change aims to help members build sustainable healthy habits by focusing their attention on day-to-day behaviours that drive improvements in overall health and wellness. Instead of only spending Points, members can also earn Points, by integrating healthy habits into their daily lives, like eating more vegetables, drinking more water, and moving their bodies more. It’s almost like a game-ification of a wellness oriented lifestyle, creating a positive outlook around making those changes. Behavioural science is clear on this: when people receive positive reinforcement for doing something, they are more likely to repeat it, and repetition creates habits. In fact, results from WeightWatchers’ six-month clinical trial of the new program showed that there was a 52.9 percent average increase in participants repeating healthy habits automatically: making these habits part of their daily lives.
Nadia Atzori, Food and Nutrition Manager at WeightWatchers, shared some of her favourite myth busting facts around common health myths:
MYTH: You can’t eat eggs every day
BUSTED: Eggs are so good for you! 1-2 eggs per day are part of a healthy pattern of eating. Eggs get a bad rep because they have cholesterol, but this is good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol).
MYTH: Carbs are the enemy
BUSTED: First off, at WeightWatchers, we do not demonize any food groups, all foods are on the menu. Secondly, your body needs carbs! When carbs break down, they break down into glucose which acts as fuel. It’s important to remember though that not all carbs are built the same – opt for complex carbs in lieu of simple carbs to get the most out of your meals.
MYTH: Fresh produce is better for you than canned or frozen produce
BUSTED: We’re all guilty of thinking this way, but it doesn’t matter how you’re getting your produce as long as you’re eating it! Frozen is especially great for maintaining freshness, as fruit and vegetables are flash frozen when ripe to eat. Just watch out for any added sugars or sodium, so you know you’re getting the full nutritional benefit.
“Wellness doesn’t look the same for everyone, it’s so individual” says Nadia Atzori, Food and Nutrition Manager at WeightWatchers.
“I like to think of it like a pair of jeans. Your jeans won’t necessarily fit me and mine won’t necessarily fit you, we need to wear the jeans that best fit our bodies. That’s why I believe in conquering wellness myths and providing people with factual information so they can decide what’s best for their individual needs and wellness journeys”.
As WeightWatchers continues to evolve, they are constantly innovating and working to improve their services to help them see success in their health and wellness journeys while continuing to live their lives and enjoy the foods they love.
Learn more and explore all WeightWatchers has to offer at http://www.ww.ca
*header photo by Nathan Cowley