At the beginning of holiday season, Weight Watchers announced several new foods that it has added to its “free points” list, meaning participants can eat all that they want without having to track them in their individual diet programs.
The new approved foods include chicken, corn, yogurt, and fish among 200 new foods added to the zero points list. While many dieters are used to eating foods like celery or apples without adding any points, these new foods are a windfall of sorts to dieters who might feel restricted by Weight Watchers point system.
The move is a big step for the company towards revamping their system through the new WW Freestyle program, which gives participants much more freedom in making food choices - with the ultimate goal being a healthy lifestyle. Weight Watchers is also trying to retain and attract new customers with a more open approach to varying diets and food preferences.
The point system is the hallmark of Weight Watchers, and has been in place since the company’s inception. The objective of implementing a point system was to give customers the freedom to eat whatever they wanted, but with accountability. In other words, you can have a piece of cake, but understand that means you can’t have a hamburger for dinner because that would add up to too many points.
Diet companies like Weight Watchers have struggled to maintain customers and continued growth as fewer families have time to thoroughly track progress and create healthy meals on a regular basis. Plus, many people are turning to new exercise fads like spinning and pilates, or relying on FitBit and other apps to monitor progress, rather than joining a traditional program like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig to lose weight. Loosening the point system allows members more freedom to customize a diet that will work in the long-run with their fast-paced lifestyle.
"In today's world, [potential members] want as much simplicity as possible, as much freedom as possible, and they want something that works into their life," CEO Mindy Grossman told USA Today. "It will attract Weight Watchers members that see this and say, 'This looks like something I want to come back to.'"
Oprah Winfrey joined Weight Watchers in 2015 as a spokesperson and stakeholder. She said in an email to USA Today regarding the new free points that the system is: "Simpler. More livable. Love that I don’t have to count so many of my favorite foods, like corn and beans.”
Weight Watchers had 3.4 million subscribers as of the third quarter, which was the highest number of memberships in half a decade.