Millions of people have joined it hoping to lose pounds.
In fact, Weight Watchers enrolled over 600,000 new subscribers in 2017 alone.
Even high-profile celebrities like Oprah Winfrey have found weight-loss success following the program.
You might be curious as to what makes it so popular.
This article reviews the Weight Watchers program so you can decide if it might work for you.
Weight Watchers was founded by Jean Nidetch in 1963 out of her Queens, New York home.
From its humble beginnings as a weekly weight-loss group for her friends, Weight Watchers quickly grew into one of the most sought-after diet plans in the world.
Initially, Weight Watchers used an exchange system where foods were counted according to servings, similar to the diabetes exchange system.
In the 90s, it introduced a points-based system that assigned values to foods and drinks based on their fiber, fat and calorie contents.
Weight Watchers has overhauled the points-based system several times over the years, most recently launching the SmartPoints system in 2015.
The SmartPoints System
SmartPoints assigns different point values to foods based on factors such as their calorie, fat, protein and sugar contents.
When beginning the program, each dieter is given a set amount of daily points based on personal data like their height, age, gender and weight-loss goals.
Although no foods are off limits, dieters must stay below their set daily points to reach their desired weight.
Healthier foods are lower in points than unhealthy foods like candy, chips and soda.
For example, a 230-calorie, glazed-yeast donut is 10 SmartPoints, while 230 calories of yogurt topped with blueberries and granola is only 2 SmartPoints.
In 2017, Weight Watchers revamped the SmartPoints program to make it more flexible and user-friendly.
The new system, called WW Freestyle, is based on the SmartPoints system but includes over 200 foods rated zero points.
According to the Weight Watchers website, WW Freestyle makes life simpler for dieters because zero-point foods do not have to be weighed, measured or tracked, allowing more freedom when planning meals and snacks.
Zero-point foods include eggs, skinless chicken, fish, beans, tofu and non-fat plain yogurt, among many other high-protein, low-calorie foods.
Before the Freestyle program, only fruits and non-starchy vegetables were rated zero points.
Now, foods that are higher in protein receive a lower point value, while foods that are higher in sugar and saturated fat receive higher point values.
Weight Watchers’ new Freestyle program encourages dieters to make healthier food choices instead of basing decisions on how many points they are allotted.
Dieters who join Weight Watchers are known as “members.”
Members can choose from several programs with varying levels of support.
A basic online program includes 24/7 online chat support, as well as apps and other tools. Members can pay more for in-person group meetings or one-on-one support from a Weight Watchers personal coach.
Members also receive access to an online database of thousands of foods and recipes, in addition to a tracking app for logging SmartPoints.
In addition, Weight Watchers encourages physical activity by assigning a fitness goal using FitPoints.
Each activity can be logged into the Weight Watchers app until the user reaches their weekly FitPoint goal.
Activities like dancing, walking and cleaning can all be counted towards your FitPoint goal.