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The Pros and Cons of Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers

The story of Weight Watchers (now WW International) began in Jean Nidetch's home in Queens, NY, where in the early 60s the founder invited friends over to discuss weight loss strategies. Today, Weight Watchers has evolved into a global wellness corporation.

Every week, about 1.3 million members attend Weight Watchers meetings, with almost 50,000 of them taking place in over 30 countries across the globe. The program, often considered the grand daddy of weight loss programs, has now become a proven investment towards a healthy lifestyle.

As with any weight loss plan, there's always the good and the bad. With the Weight Watchers plan, you are going to face some good things and some bad things as well. The bad news is that you'll have to stick to your diet, but the good news is that you'll finally lose some of those extra pounds. If you can weigh the pros and cons of Weight Watchers, I believe you'll be able to make an informed decision about whether to join.

Embracing the Pros of Weight Watchers

No Forbidden Foods

One of the great things about Weight Watchers is that no forbidden foods. It means that you're less likely to have late night binge-fests with those foods that you've been trying to avoid for weeks. The focus, instead, is on learning about nutrition and managing your intake effectively.

Education on Macronutrients

Weight Watchers promotes nutritional education. You will learn about nutrition while you're on Weight Watchers. In meetings and online, you can learn about certain macro-nutrients, which you should be getting everyday like protein, carbs, and fats -- and in what amounts. There's also a healthy emphasis on fruits and vegetables to supply vital nutrients.

Gradual Weight Loss

Another great plus about the Weight Watchers plan is that it encourages you to adopt a slow and steady weight loss approach. It doesn't promote any crash diet where you'll try to drop a bunch of pounds in a couple weeks. This slow approach ensures that your weight loss will endure and that new habits will triumph over old ones in the long run.

Portion Control

One of the greatest lessons you'll learn on Weight Watchers is the portion control. This is the most fundamental lesson you can learn to achieve lasting and sustainable weight loss. With the points system, you'll know exactly how much you can eat of your favorite foods to achieve your weight loss goals. Once you've mastered portion control (though it does take a lot of practice), you can surely manage your excess weight for the rest of your life.

Ease of Following

WW's diet plan is intelligible and straightforward, thanks to the app's tracking feature. Users can log in their daily consumption, enabling the app to provide an all-encompassing view of their dietary situation. This feature supports efficient tracking and adjustment of food habits.

Brand Independence

Contrary to some dietary regimes, WW doesn't impose the purchase of specific branded products or frequent specialty grocery shopping. This flexibility fosters easier adherence to the diet and reduces the financial and time burden usually associated with specialized diet plans.

Scientific Basis Behind the Success of Weight Watchers

WW International's program is perhaps one of the most researched weight management initiatives in the world.

In 2013, a study was conducted by researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. [1] They selected a group of 147 people who followed the Weight Watchers plan. These participants attended weekly Weight Watchers meetings and used the company's online and mobile fitness applications. The scientists compared this group to a self-help group of 145 people. They were given printed and library materials with basic dietary and exercise guidelines for weight loss.

Graph comparing participants in Weight Watchers group with those in self-help group.

As the graph shows, the Weight Watchers participants were 9 times more likely to achieve a 10% weight reduction at 6 months compared to the group that tried to lose weight by themselves.

Facing the Cons of Weight Watchers

While the program offers several benefits, there are also potential drawbacks to consider.


The cost of Weight Watchers is one of the barriers to join for some people. They offer three plans: Digital for $3.38/week, Digital 360 for $4.61/week, and Unlimited Workshops + Digital for $6.92/week. Each plan offers different benefits. Even with the coupons and promotions they're always pumping out, costs can add up if you have a lot of weight to lose.

App Interface

While the WW app is a useful tool, its interface can be challenging to navigate. This complexity may limit users' ability to fully explore and utilize all of the subscription's features and benefits, impacting the overall user experience.

Group Atmosphere

While weigh-ins are confidential, some people are really turned off by the group atmosphere of the Weight Watchers meetings. You do have the option to do the program online; however, success rates go up with those who attend the meetings. This sort of group atmosphere makes some people uncomfortable.

Weekly Weigh-Ins

Weight Watchers requires weekly weigh-ins, and this really frightens some people. It can also be a bit annoying. Some people stress about their weigh-in all week long and are embarrassed if they gain a pound or so over the week.

Honestly, it's discouraging to track progress weekly instead of monthly. You can't expect everyone to make much progress in a week. That's unfair and unrealistic! It may be more reasonable for some people to track their progress on a monthly basis.

Points Plan System

The newly launched Points Plan (2022 / 2023) has been confusing for some people and has left many lifetime members unhappy. One woman says, she lost 100 lbs on the old Points system but is not achieving the same success with the new plan.

Long-term Results

Although Weight Watchers has been highly acclaimed, studies have shown mixed results in terms of long-term weight maintenance. For example, one study found that only half of Weight Watchers participants maintained at least 5% of their weight loss five years after completing the program. [2]

Workshop Location

Accessibility to workshop locations can be a significant drawback for some members. For instance, the nearest workshop to my residence, located in a densely populated area, was a 20-minute drive away. This inconvenience could limit the program's utility for potential users who prioritize proximity and convenience.

The Support System at WW

WW provides easy access to online coaches and customer service representatives. However, in-person interaction requires the Unlimited Workshops + Digital plan. The workshops have a friendly atmosphere. Attendees share healthy recipes, success stories, and motivational slogans, though the latter may appeal to fewer people.

Despite the positive community environment, some aspects of the program deviate from the diet's "natural" ethos, such as the promotion of artificial sweeteners in WW-branded foods.

Is Weight Watchers Right For You?

Finally, I need to say that despite some cons, Weight Watchers works better than clinical weight loss programs. The latter cost 3 times more and run only in academic facilities whereas Weight Watchers is ubiquitous.

You now have substantial information to decide if Weight Watchers is for you or not! By weighing the pros and cons, you can make an informed decision about whether this program aligns with your health goals and lifestyle needs. Remember, the most effective weight loss plan is the one you can stick to in the long run!


  1. Johnston CA, Rost S, Miller-Kovach K, Moreno JP, & Foreyt JP (2013). A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Community-based Behavioral Counseling Program. The American journal of medicine PMID: 24135513.
  2. Lowe MR, Kral TV, & Miller-Kovach K (2008). Weight-loss maintenance 1, 2 and 5 years after successful completion of a weight-loss programme. The British journal of nutrition, 99 (4), 925-30 PMID: 18042306.

⚠️ Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.