Posted by: Chris Maloney | March 31, 2011

Weight Watchers’ Points Program: Zero Calories for Fruit?

20/365 - weight watchers chocolate brownie

Image by fionaandneil via Flickr

Here in Maine we’ve had a huge push for the new Weight Watchers Program.  The ads on the radio alone are coming every day. 

My bottom line is that calorie restriction alone is not effective, regardless of how you package it.  But I wanted to know more about the program because it’s very likely to be the newest weight loss craze. 

To begin, Weight Watchers started the points program back in 1997.  They’ve just revamped the existing program to go along with the newest research.  I love the quote from the CEO:  “The issue is that calorie-counting has become unhelpful. When we have a 100-calorie apple in one hand and a 100-calorie pack of cookies in the other, and we view them as being “the same” because the calories are the same, it says everything that needs to be said about the limitations of just using calories in guiding food choices.”

But that also says that calorie counting doesn’t work.  Kind of an oops for an organization that is synonymous with calorie counting. 

I also like the idea of fruits having zero points.  If you read the large print, that means all fruit in on the table, in any quantity.  Have at it.  But here in the small print is the CEO:  “Enjoy the fact that fruits have a PointsPlus value of 0, but don’t go completely crazy” Wait. I’m sorry. Do fruits have zero points or not? Looks like not.

So what we have is a revamped system that is supposed to make everything simpler. But it’s still based on a counting system that in previous permutations hasn’t worked. I am going to give Weight Watchers full credit for being on the front lines of weight loss and trying to help, but I’ve also got to say that -unless you follow the restrictions FOR LIFE- they are not likely to work long-term for weight loss.

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Responses

  1. I have to disagree. WW is a way of teaching members to eat properly and incorporate activity into their lives in order to lose weight. Many of us on WW never learned healthy eating habits in our earlier years so we need to learn them now. The support of the program and the simplicity of counting points over large numbers with calories works.

  2. As I said, I have no problem with WW’s basic goal. Unfortunately, all the major reviews of all the weight loss programs over a longer period of time shows very little statistical effect. Individuals may benefit, but the obesity epidemic will continue as a whole. We need to move toward an approach that addresses the hormonal issues involved directly. By altering the program, WW is acknowledging the failures of the past while still not really addressing the big issues.


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