A RD’s letter to Weight Watchers
There is no one size fits all approach to health. Diets don’t work and actually do more harm than good in the long run. Diets are known to not only physically affect every organ in the body, but dysregulate hormones regarding hunger and satiety (feeling full). A program like Weight Watchers does not take into consideration the things that brought a person to the point they’re at – hormones, history, genetics, imbalances, gut dysbiosis. It maintains the “one for all” mindset when it comes to dieting, as if any and all will benefit from the program.
This is all said prior to the unveiling of their new, free teen program. Creating this allows a lifelong journey of a constant battle and discussion surrounding food. The delicate years of a teenager should not be focused on their weight, but rather include a variety of foods that are needed during this time of growth. There is science to show the increase of eating disorders and even obesity from those who experiment with diets in their teen years.
Of course I am pro-health for all ages. Of course I love to involve a family in a journey to getting to one’s best, healthiest self. But it does not look like meetings, counting points, labeling foods as “free” or “not free”?, or even hinting towards an ideal body or number on the scale. Wake up Weight Watchers. I’m sure I speak for most Dietitians in this open letter below:
Dear Weight Watchers,
You have never been up there on my list of things I like. I cannot describe the speed at which you found yourself straight to the bottom of this list the minute I heard about your new program. I wish I could put a number on the amount of people I have had to retrain to see food as more than a “point” or numerical value, those people who bought into your program. Now that you have brought teenagers into this, I will no longer be able to sigh and roll my eyes when hearing your name, but rather go to battle to talk anyone out of this terrible idea.
Your program is not free as you so graciously advertise. The cost of this program spans far beyond your points system and any “diet” you believe a teenager should follow. This is only the beginning of a lifelong battle with food and one’s body image and there is no talking yourself out of that. There is research behind dieting at a young age and the detrimental effects it brings about both mentally and physically. How are you overlooking this??
Say what you want about making this a “family” thing but never should developing healthy eating habits as a family be done through a weight-focused ideal. And do not even begin to use the word “lifestyle” in regards to your teachings. Your program’s emphasis reflects the number on the scale as seen in your title. Placing a numerical or point value with the focus on weight loss is a diet. Plain and simple. I’ll be damned if my 13 year old child begins this yo-yo diet crap at that age, let alone know or use the word “diet”. Let them be young and live while they still can without adding an added stressor to their teenage years.
You are contributing to the diet culture that we as Dietitians fight daily to put to rest. I’d thank you for keeping us in business but not this time. The thought of the increased eating disorders and metabolic mayhem undoubtedly coming our way is nothing to embrace, but is sickening. You have set us back farther than you may have imagined with your senseless idea to market to such a vulnerable population.
RDs who will be here to pick up the pieces