Weight Watchers (cont.)

Recently, Weight Watchers sponsored a two-year clinical trial in which researchers followed participants randomly assigned one of two weight loss methods -- Weight Watchers or self-help. Those assigned to Weight Watchers consistently averaged weight losses that were about three times greater than the self-helpers. They also kept if off more successfully. The typical self-helper was back to his/her original weight after two years. However, those in the Weight Watchers group who continued to regularly attend meetings kept an average 11-pound weight loss.

Food for Thought

"The Weight Watchers' program has changed some over the years, but it has certainly stood the test of time," says Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University and member of the American Heart Association's nutrition committee.

"Any diet plan is a way of helping people limit caloric intake, but it's important that it also allow for optimal nutrient intake," she tells WebMD. "This program attempts to achieve that."

Nutritionists like Lichtenstein agree that exercise is critical in dieting. However, while support groups helps many people stay on the straight and narrow, not everyone likes the group approach, she says. "Weight Watchers probably works very well for some people. Others will need a different approach."

Reviewed By Charlotte E. Grayson, MD February 2004.

SOURCES: WeightWatchers.com. Weight Watchers International. Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition, Tufts University, Boston.

© 1996-2004 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

Last Editorial Review: 5/25/2005