Continued from The Calorie Counting Diet and Weight Watchers Diet Review.
The Retro Diet: Weight Watchers. In addition to weekly group meetings, Weight Watchers controls consumption by assigning every food a Points value, based on its calorie, fat, and fiber content – and no one food is off-limits.
The passÃ©: “The first time I went to a Weight Watchers meeting was in 1999 in Ardmore, Pennsylvania,” says Isabel, a writer in New York City, who had gained 15 pounds that year.
“I went with my mother and was surrounded by all of these blue-haired ladies talking about how great berries were.”
The present: Weight Watchers has some surprising new members. In her recently published book, The New Beauty Secrets, makeup artist Laura Mercier credits the plan with helping her shed 20 pounds.
Designer Isaac Mizrahi interviewed Sarah Jessica Parker for his television show at New York City’s tony West Village restaurant Sant Ambroeus, quickly assessed the Points value of her avocado salad, and confessed, “Weight Watchers is my life.”
And the Sunday morning Weight Watchers meeting in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District is filled with fashion editors and entertainment executives. (Egg-white omelettes at Pastis often follow.)
Expert take: Weight Watchers members tend to be loyal, research shows – and in a two-year study, they lost more weight and maintained more weight loss than dieters doing other regimens on their own.
Some experts, though, express concern that the Points system may fail to account for one important aspect. “It suggests, ‘I can eat my pizza, cake, and ice cream and still lose weight,’ so of course it’s appealing – but some people have real problems controlling the portions of those foods,” says Susan Bowerman, the assistant director at UCLA Center for Human Nutrition.
Having “just a little” of a reduced-fat version of the problematic food can sometimes be too tempting. As Stephen Gullo, a weight-loss specialist from New York City, says, “I wouldn’t give an alcoholic light beer. Some people should steer clear of foods they have a history of abusing.”