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Weight Watchers Argument, Research Paper Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1651

Research Paper

Introduction

This paper explores the concept of ‘Weight Watchers’ as an organization that helps obese people to lose weight by methods of exercise and diet and return to normalized weight conditions that promote a happier and healthier lifestyle.  The paper explores the pros and cons of the organization in terms of both effectiveness and meeting the requirements of those people that utilize this service.  Weightwatchers provides a useful community service but it is questionable whether this meets all the needs of those people with weight problems and there may be the need for clinical intervention if problems such as diabetes, stroke or cardiovascular problems are to be avoided.

“As the world leaders in healthy weight loss, we pride ourselves in taking the latest, proven and global nutrition research and turning it into a highly effective and flexible weight loss plan that really works.” (Weightwatchers.co.uk, 2010).  Weight watchers now operate in on online environment in addition to holding local community meetings. The program has become much more holistic in nature moving from the pure concept of calorie control to that of the propoints system that looks at weight reduction in a much more integrated fashion that combines a healthy balanced diet with exercise regime. “You’ll be eating satisfying, healthy foods, enjoying regular weight loss and, along with the support and inspiration from others sharing the journey – either in a meeting or online – you’ll stay motivated to achieve each weight loss milestone to get you to the weight and shape you want to be.” (Weightwatchers.co.uk, 2010).

Weightwatchers is certainly a crowd puller and it was reported that over 10 million people in Britain attended meetings across the UK.  Weight watchers had its origins in New York USA and was started by Jean Nidetch and Al Lippert – “More than 40 years on, Weight Watchers International claims to have helped millions of people around the world to lose weight. Last year alone, 6,500 meetings were held in the UK each week – around 25 percent more than a decade ago” (Kellow, 2010).

Weightwatchers has certainly been instrumental in helping people with overweight conditions to address the problem. There is the added concern however whether this should exist in isolation from the medical community and whether there is sufficient accurate information for you to make the right informed choices.

Evaluation

The Advantages

The Points Plan offered by weightwatchers allows you to eat or drink whatever you prefer, however it has restrictions around its core plan. The main objective is to try and make you eat more healthily and this means the introduction of low fat foods like lean meats, chicken, fruit and vegetables. It provides a support system with the help of others who are trying to achieve similar objectives. In addition this can also become a social function where you meet and make new friends. “Weight Watchers offers an online alternative for people who don’t want to attend weekly meetings. Becoming an online member gives you access to the Core Plan and Points Plan, a Points Calculator, a Weight Tracker, progress charts, recipes, weekly emails and message boards” (Kellow, 2010). In the UK there has been an increasing trend towards the medical profession and weight watchers working together. This has been particularly noticeable amongst the Doctors (GP’s) and the National Health Service in a collaborative effort to assist more serious cases in weight reduction programs “ (Kellow, 2010). “This single-center, randomized prospective trial demonstrated that among a group of moderately overweight women, 12 weeks of participation in the Weight Watchers program resulted in statistically significant improvements in weight loss, fat loss, activity levels and several quality-of-life indices. The researchers concluded that Weight Watchers is effective for weight loss and yields significant health and psychological benefits.” (JM Rippe, 1998).

Disadvantages

The concept of weight watchers is fairly expensive and the diets proposed are not necessarily inexpensive. The point value system is also time consuming based upon the amount of effort required in order to maintain count of the points. “People with medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or gallstones, for example, are also advised to see their GP first before starting the plan. Women who are breast-feeding can join Weight Watchers after their baby is six weeks old providing they’ve had their post-natal examination and have their doctor’s approval” (Kellow, 2010).  There are certain points that have been raised regarding food allergies in the weight watchers diet program – “Although this diet as very balanced, it can post something of a problem for dieters who are unsure of whether they have any food allergies. Because the diet is non-restrictive and includes all food groups, there are many more things within the diet which dieters may be allergic to.” (Better Health USA, 2010).

Alternative Considerations

The most obvious choice is that of the self-help plan where you go on an exercise and diet regime that is supervised by your Doctor or physician.  This method does require a great degree of self-discipline and control and you do not have a peer group to offer encouragement and support. It works well if you have a supportive family that will work with you in order to help achieve your goals or you have a close friend that is working with you in order to try similar objectives.  You need to manage the concept of depression that often accompanies the program and this should be discussed with the Doctor.  Where more serious conditions are diagnosed like that of high blood pressure or diabetes the doctor may also prescribe a course of medication.   Weightwatchers argue that self-help programs have not proved to be as effective as their own program – “Weight Watchers also offer face-to-face support to dieters in the form of weekly meetings. Here, you can meet with the Team Leader for advice and pep talks as well as meeting other dieters for support and encouragement. More often than not, the Team Leader is someone that has previously had weight problems and has managed to resolve them through adopting the Weight Watchers lifestyle.” (Better Health USA, 2010).

Evaluation of Critics & User Feedback

In general terms the user feedback from those attending Weight Watchers session is extremely positive.  The positives seem to far outweigh any negative considerations.  Another aspect of this is the support mechanism and how constructive help and advice can help you with the psychological considerations like self-esteem and confidence. The low balance of these can be a detrimental effect to gaining personal control of the situation and overcoming the problem. Control is an important factor here as ultimately only you can take control of the situation and under proper supervision determine the correct results.  People who go solo and have indulged on ‘crash diets’ in order to lose weight can endanger their health as the body requires a certain nutritional value on a daily basis.  Knowledge is extremely important here and this is where a supervised program of dieting proves to be more beneficial.  “As well as support, Weight Watchers have brought out a wide range of books, both as support tools and cookery books. Here, dieters can find recipes that are suitable for the whole family and that are already pointed up per portion. Many restaurants and supermarkets also put a Weight Watchers points values on some of their meals and products” (Better Health USA, 2010).

One of the most severe criticisms is that Weightwatchers focuses purely on the dietary component of losing weight and virtually ignores the importance of exercise.  The concept of exercise is equally important to improve cardio vascular circulation and reduce high blood pressure and therefore an important part of the medical consideration in losing weight.  The group needs to look at more integration of exercise to the dietary conditions “First, there is no emphasis on exercise. This is perhaps the most damning critique of their program. They give lip service to exercise in their printed materials, but the vast majority of the program is focused on eating. Yet, exercise is a critical component in weight gain and weight loss as well as maintenance. The so called mood levelling effects of moderate exercise might even be contributory to dietary compliance.” (Kuro5hin, 2006).  It has also been cited that the organisation is focused more on making money and as such the organization is skewed towards promotion of life long female members where they see this to be a lucrative market place “Founded by a woman and presumably dominated by women in the leadership the program is somewhat aimed at women. Women definitely need a program just as much as men and this is a criticism because it means that men are not embraced by their program.” (Kuro5hin, 2006)

Conclusion

Examining both sides of the argument there is certainly a need for groups like Weightwatchers and they promote a great deal of good in the community.  Most people require the degree of emotional help and support in a properly supervised, controlled and medically balanced diet.  There is a good argument for saying that they could widen their horizons purely beyond that of dietary control and particular embrace exercise.  It is also questionable as to whether they are clinically qualified to deal with the psychological considerations of their program.  Although it is recognised that many groups do in fact liaise with the local Doctors, nevertheless there may be need for more inclusivity here and particularly in the more severe cases of obesity.

Works Cited

Better Health USA. (2010). Rating the Weight Watchers Points Diet: Advantages and Disadvantages. Retrieved 11 30, 2010, from Better Health USA: http://www.pivotaladvisor.com/public/253.cfm

JM Rippe, J. P. (1998). Improved Psychological Well-Being, Quality of Life, and Health Practices in Moderately Overweight Women Participating in a 12-Week Structured Weight Loss Program. Obesity Research, 6(3): 208-218. .

Kellow, J. (2010). Weight Watchers Under the Spotlight. Retrieved 11 30, 2010, from Weioghtloss Resources.co.uk: http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/diet/weight-watchers.htm

Kuro5hin. (2006, 10 8). What’s Wrong With Weight Watchers. Retrieved 11 30, 2010, from Kuro5hin: http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2006/10/8/1060/34817

Weightwatchers.co.uk. (2010). Why Weight Watchers? Retrieved 11 30, 2010, from Weightwatchers.co.uk: http://www.weightwatchers.co.uk/plan/index.aspx

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