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Which diet? – Part 1: Weight Watchers and Slimming World

Hadyn Luke posted this on Wednesday 7th of June 2017 Hadyn Luke 07/06/2017

Tags: Nutrition weight management

The approach of warmer weather is always a popular time for losing weight, as people look to shed extra pounds gained over the winter and fit into their summer clothes.

Dieting is a multi-million pound industry and weight-loss claims are made for many products and diet programmes. Only you can decide which is the best diet for you, depending on your age, weight, lifestyle and goals, but the choice can be baffling.

In the first of three blogs on weight loss, we compare two of the most popular organisations: Weight Watchers and Slimming World.

Weight Watchers

The “world’s leading community based weight management provider” has a tagline of “Where no food is off limits”, offering a personalised diet without calorie counting. The NHS refers more people to Weight Watchers than any other diet plan.

How does the diet work?

A personalised counting system, SmartPoints, “nudges you towards nutritious, healthier foods”. There’s also a No Count option for those who don’t want any measuring, weighing or counting. Weekly meetings are led by a trained, experienced coach.

What’s the cost?

Standard meeting registration: £10.
Attending weekly meeting: £6.25 (can vary depending on location and promotional offers)
Meetings + Online: a monthly fee allowing unlimited meetings and online portal access – various prices
Special offers are available from time to time (see website)
Target members attend free if they remain within 2lbs above or below target weight, six weeks after reaching it.
(Details correct as of June 2017).

Pros and cons

Pros it doesn’t forbid foods and aims for slow and steady weight loss, while promoting exercise and offering nutritional tips. Support is offered online and at meetings, and the Weight Watchers’ app with a bar-code scanner is a popular tool.

The Weight Watchers website says that you could lose seven times more weight with Weight Watchers than dieting on your own.

Cons it can be expensive depending on how much weight you want to lose and how much support you need. Not everyone likes the bind of weekly meetings and weigh ins or discussing their weight in front of other people. The discipline required to count SmartPoints can put some people off or become a barrier to sticking to their diet.

Slimming World

Billed as “The club with the big heart”, Slimming World offers support and a range of tools on its website such as a free diet profile and a BMI calculator. There are around 16,000 groups in the UK.

How does the diet work?

It offers a group and online support, with a Food Optimising eating plan that “puts you in control” without the need for weighing food and counting calories. You choose from Free Foods, eg fruit and veg, that you can eat in unlimited quantity, Healthy Extras and Syns, such as biscuits, crisps and cake.

What’s the cost?

Standard joining fee: £10 (£5 up to 17 June 2017)
Attending weekly meeting: £4.95
Special offers are available from time to time, see website, eg: 12-week Countdown course for the price of 10 weeks
Reduced fees are available for those under 17 or over 60
First week free for a group of four
Target members attend free if they remain within 3lbs above or below target weight
(Prices correct as of June 2017).

Pros and cons

Pros: the Free Food list has a list of food that dieters can eat in unlimited amounts so there’s no need to go hungry, and no foods are banned. Support from consultants and online.

Cons: the downside is that there’s not a great deal of education about calories and portion sizes, which could make it harder to sustain any weight loss. As before, group meetings do not suit everyone.

Conclusion

These two diet organisations take a similar approach: promoting weight loss with the support of a group, with set goals and help provided in person and/or online.

Ultimately, it’s about finding the programme that suits your aims, lifestyle and approach to dieting, but it does seem that the evidence points to group dieting as beneficial to individual motivation.

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