You might have seen Oprah Winfrey promoting Weight Watchers recently, for a very targeted reason: the long-time diet company has been losing members (about 20 million Weight Watchers members have gone inactive the past few years), so they have done a drastic reboot of the point system they made famous.
Now it seems the trend with diet programs is taking a more holistic, lifestyle approach to change. In other words, a healthy diet and exercise routine is much more important to long-term health than focusing on points and pounds.
With this in mind, Weight Watchers hired Winfrey to be their spokesperson for their new reboot “Beyond the Scale,” which focuses on a new lifestyle approach to dieting, incorporating fitness routines as well as fat and sugar intake into a new point system.
Gary Foster, Weight Watchers’ Chief Scientific Officer told Time Magazine: “The way we think about it is that we used to have a very narrow focus on weight, and now weight is one of things we focus on but it’s not the only thing. The consumer sentiment is, ‘I still want to lose weight but I’m thinking about in a more holistic way.”
Not everyone has received the news well, with long-time members taking to Twitter to complain that the new app had problems already. According to these users, there wasn’t much explanation of how the new point system would work, which left many feeling confused about how to track their meals.
According to the article in Time, the brand has always used an algorithm to turn food into one simple number. In the past, the algorithm was based in part on broad categories including calories, protein, fat and carbohydrates. Now, Weight Watchers is using a new formula that looks at the type of fat, with saturated fat pointed more heavily. Lean protein, too, has fewer points that other meats. The old formula also lumped sugar in with carbohydrates, they’re now calculated separately. Fruits and vegetables still get zero points.
The company is also basing its point system on resting metabolic rates, which incorporates the fitness level of each member and makes it a bit more personalized. For instance, in the past everyone got 49 extra points a week, regardless of their resting metabolic rate. Now, the weekly allotment ranges from 14 to 42 points depending on resting metabolic rates.
The app is also incorporating fitness points, where activities can give you extra food points. And the overall focus has broadened to include non-food related activities people can do to help them feel better. These goals will be a part of Weight Watchers meetings from this point forward.