Weight Watchers rolls out new changes to their core program every year around this time. Last year they introduced the Points Plus Program.
This year they are rolling out some adjustments to the Points Plus Program, and are calling it Points Plus 2012. We have put together a quick look at the three most important changes to the program.
Some Of The Changes:
1. Greater flexibility With Daily Points Plus Ranges.
According to David Kirchhoff, Weight Watchers CEO, the company has adjusted its system to provide "a new level of flexibility to allow members and subscribers to fine-tune the program to their specific needs."
- We’ve lowered the bottom level of daily PointsPlus values from 29 to 26.
- We now have a system that allows members and subscribers to tweak their daily target by +/- 3 PointsPlus values (with a minimum of 26 to ensure nutritional needs are met).
- We’ve introduced more flexibility in how members and subscribers use their activityPointsPlus values as well as the weekly PointsPlus Allowance.
These are pretty minor adjustments, geared toward helping people adhere to the plan.
2. Instead of Counting Points, You can opt to do the Simply Filling Plan.
The Simply Filling Plan used to be called the Core Plan. It is Weight Watchers' attempt at a healthy eating plan. It might sound funny that they would need a healthy eating plan, but the reality is that most people are comfortable with just eating less of what they are already eating.
Moving over to a "healthy" diet requires a level of change that most people, according to every statistic available, simply will not do.
However, for those people who don't want to count, the Simply Filling plan provides a nice incentive to eat healthy. Incentives to eat healthy foods have long been a weakness of Weight Watchers overall offerings.
It is actually unfair to criticize Weight Watchers for not pushing healthy foods enough. The reason is that they do a pretty good job at helping people take the first few steps towards a better diet. Their approach is by no means perfect, but they get you going in the right direction.
3. Greater focus on Activity Points, as well as fitness tips to help you get there.
Weight Watchers used to have something called the Flex System, which essentially incentivized exercise. This was a sensible and popular option. The term Flex System and Flex Points were phased out with the introduction of Weight Watchers Momentum program, and the incentive was rolled right into the program.
Weight Watchers Points Plus 2012 promises to give you incentives and instructions to help you get to your fitness goal.
Overall, these are fairly minor changes and reflect a program that is working well in the marketplace. The big concern we continue to have at PEERtrainer comes from looking at the logs of our members who follow Weight Watchers. They tend to eat less healthy food than those people who follow other plans that seek to help people make big changes and not small adjustments.
However, we recognize the reality that most people don't want to eat a lot of vegetables and fiber from non-processed foods. In fact, we recently surveyed 1,000 of our own members, and learned that only 10% of people are getting more than 30 grams of fiber a day from non-processed food.
The Two Weaknesses Of The Weight Watchers Points Plus 2012 Program:
1. The biggest continuing weakness of Weight Watchers overall offering is that it does not specifically encourage or incentivize the consumption of green vegetables. Meaning, you don't earn points for consumption of specific amounts of greens.
At PEERtrainer we have been pretty vocal about this for a couple years now. We even launched our own healthy eating plan (which is free) and in it we specifically incentivize the consumption of green vegetables. We also included an added incentive to eat greens after 5pm, which helps people combat the effects of emotional eating.
2. Weight Watchers also has not yet jumped on the "Elimination Diet" bandwagon. It has become increasingly common for leading health experts to recommend getting rid of wheat from your diet. The reason is that many people have developed intolerances and allergies to wheat.
Weight Watchers continues to encourage an approach to eating that seeks to make small changes in the food mix, as well as reduced portions. For people who are allergic to certain foods, portion control will not help them.
Additionally, some people develop such a habit of portion control that they actually portion control their vegetables! We recently published an article called "Is Portion Control Keeping You Fat" where we outline our experience with this phenomenon.
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