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Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality

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Weight Watchers

About the ProgramPurpose: Inspire and guide healthier choices.

Population Served

Format: People can follow the Weight Watchers program by signing up for Meetings or OnlinePlus memberships. Weight Watchers Meetings offer a group format, facilitated by a Weight Watchers Coach who has lost weight on the program and kept it off, where members discuss their scale and non-scale victories, and problem-solve with others in similar situations. The 24/7 Chat feature embedded within the Weight Watchers app and website allows members to connect at any time with a Weight Watchers expert.

Setting: People can experience Weight Watchers Meetings in their community at WW Centers and community organizations, such as churches and recreation centers. Weight Watchers also brings meetings to the workplace through ‘Weight Watchers Health Solutions’.

People served: Adults in the community who are looking for a flexible, livable way to create healthier habits while potentially losing weight.

Health State/Condition: Weight management and healthier living

Program location: Weight Watchers has locations worldwide and also offers its program online, which can be followed regardless of location. As of the end of fiscal 2016, Weight Watchers has 32,000 meetings worldwide.

Estimated number served: As of quarter 3 2017, there are 1.3 million meeting members and 2.0 million online members globally. Of those, 0.9 million meeting members were in North America and 1.3 million of the online members were in North America.

People in the Program

As of the end of fiscal 2016, Weight Watchers has 8,800 Coaches globally.

Recruitment & selection: Coaches are members who have lost weight on the program.

Training: In addition to knowing the program from experience, new coaches complete approximately 35 hours of in-person training on a variety of skills including: The science behind the Weight Watchers program, the program approach to food, fitness and mindset, the behavioral skills of weight management, and meeting facilitation. All Coaches complete 6-7 hours of annual refresher courses, both online and in person.

Sustaining the Program

Key strategies: The Weight Watchers program is consistently evaluated by independent researchers to assess efficacy, safety, and acceptability. Additionally, Weight Watchers is one of the few commercially available weight management programs that fulfills the United States Preventative Task Force, The Obesity Society, The American College of Cardiology, and the American Heart Association criteria for behavioral lifestyle interventions for weight loss. We also have a Scientific Advisory Board of 10 renowned experts who are enlisted to inform and advise the company as it continues to innovate its program. The Weight Watchers program is based on effective behavior change strategies, positive reinforcement and community to help motivate members to initiate and maintain healthy behaviors that fit their lifestyle in manageable and enjoyable ways. Behavior change strategies include: Problem solving, clear goal setting, stimulus control, skill-building and action planning. Positive reinforcement is demonstrated through positive recognition and rewards, positive messaging and feedback through our service providers, emails and digital messaging.

Quality control: Weight Watchers has a dedicated team of scientific researchers, led by Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Gary Foster, Ph.D., who have worked with universities over the past 15 years to conduct dozens of randomized controlled trials that independently evaluated the effectiveness of the Weight Watchers program.