I’ve been in and around Weight Watchers since my college years, when emotional binge-eating first threatened my health. Some 40 years later, I’m among the cadre of members who have reached their weight loss goal and have stayed aboard too keep it that way—Lifetimers keep our membership by weighing in monthly to show that we are keeping within a couple of pounds of that goal weight.

Weight Watchers switches to WW

When Weight Watchers dropped the weight from its name in 2018—inserting instead the impossible-to-sound-out “WW”—the company line was that the new focus was on health, not dieting.

Wellness that works.

WW 2018 press release

That felt fine to me. The leader and participants at my Tuesday night meeting saw me through the hardest battle of my life: regaining my health—and my healthy weight—after nearly dying from a ruptured aneurysm in Amsterdam in 2019. I may be one of the few subscribers who was embarrassed to walk into a WW meeting room because she was too skinny, but I knew that the program would guide me toward healthy choices as I rebuilt my body.

My more recent inclusion in the online WW community, Connect, reinforces the personal support that helps me make good decisions while diversifying the conversations with people who like the things that I like: exercise, gardening, dogs, books, travel, avocados. And food, we share an obsession with food.

WW adds diet drugs and closes meetings

But my faith in WW was profoundly shaken this year by two coinciding corporate decisions: getting into the weight loss drug business and closing meetings. WW’s purchase of a telehealth subscription service offering the hot new diabetes drug Ozempic—in short supply for diabetics because of its appetite-suppression appeal—felt like a bottom-line bait and switch, as if it had always been just about weight loss. And the news that the company was shuttering many of its studios, including perhaps mine, sent the message WW was not about personal support after all.

This seemed a cold pivot away from the support group that Jean Nidetch founded in her kitchen in 1963 with six other overweight women. It was as if Jean were de slipping her pals bennies from her purse and calling it weight loss support, and then kicking them out of her house with a prescription in their pockets.

Two thousand responses to my poll

I wondered what my WW community would do. So, I asked.

This pivot away from Jean Nidetch’s founding principles has me ambivalent about supporting the company. What do you think about all this, and are you leaving, staying, or waiting to decide?

My question on Connect

My post went viral, generating nearly two thousand poll responses. Here is some of what those WW members had to say.

5 percent said that the change is pushing them out

I’m disappointed in the direction WW is going. Investing in drug companies and closing meetings to save money? It seems that they are prioritizing profits over principles. Without attending a meeting of real people who know and support me, the WW program no longer works for me.

30 percent said they are waiting to decide

I’ve seen the program evolve and improve over the years as the science has changed. Drugs are another weight loss tool, like your scale and measuring spoons, and it will come with the support of WW to make the long term lifestyle changes for better health. And online support works for me!

And 65 percent said they are staying

Let’s not let corporate actions derail our personal journeys—I’m staying to stay healthy!

I’m sticking with Weight Watchers

WW has a public relations problem. Only time—and smarter messaging from the company—will tell if the brand has been too badly damaged to survive.

But I’m sticking with WW because of conversations like this. It’s the people I listen to and laugh with and learn from every day, including at my Tuesday in-person meeting, which is not closing after all, just moving close by. We’ll migrate to the new space together. In fellowship.

We’re still in all this together.

2 thoughts on “Wellness Wednesday: Why I’m Sticking With Weight Watchers

  1. Right on. I’m sticking with it. I’m disappointed and guessing my free access to the app will disappear after the year passes of not weighing in. I’m a Lifetime member at goal too.

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