With a wave of its corporate hand, Weight Watchers has thrown the lives of three-quarters of a million loyal dieters into flux. The company has changed its famous points system, allowing 31 points a week instead of 22, and assigning zero points to most fruits and veggies. It's the first time Weight Watchers has ever tweaked the "cultlike" system, The New York Times' Elissa Gootman writes, and its devotees are furious.
In more innocent times, an apple and a 100-calorie pack of Oreos were worth the same: 2 points. Now points are issued based on the food's levels of fiber, carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Some are celebrating the move away from processed foods--others, not so much. "I don't want to be forced to choose veggies. I do NOT like veggies or fruit ... I feel like I am being forced to 'diet,' and that is what I DO NOT WANT," one dieter wrote on the Weight Watchers site, reported by Gootman.
- Mom Says No More Cookies "Ultimately isn't the real appeal of Weight Watchers the fact that it acts like a surrogate authority which gives us permission to gorge on foods that we instictively know are bad for us (but too delicious to give up)," Scallywag writes. "Now with the new change we are once again forced to reckon with the fact that fast food, processed food are still just as bad for us albeit with the new conundrum that that Weight Watchers is no longer sanctioning them, even as tidbit guilt portions. So much for dieting and the wonderful illusions we are ... begging to believe."
- Chaos Reigns "If you're one of the thousands of Americans who uses the Weight Watchers system to turn meals into joyless games of caloric Tetris, you probably noticed the rules have changed. ... Imagine if one day you woke up and apples no longer existed--this is how Weight Watchers feel right now. May we suggest," writes Gawker's Adrien Chen dryly," a simple point-based dietary system that can't be changed abruptly by a corporation--one you don't have to pay hundreds of dollars to take advantage of and has zero meetings per week? It's called calories. ... The rules of calories are simple: Eat less of them."
- We Are So Messed Up About Food, Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams observes. The confusion over the change is "a sad statement on how disconnected we are as a culture with the food in front us and the cues our bodies are sending that so many of us don't even know what to do when faced with a party platter of cured meats or a full stomach and a few rollover points at the end of the day. That's not because we're dumb or lazy," she points out. "It's the result of decades of shrewd peddling from a food industry that has aggressively supersized our platters and dulled our tastebuds with corn syrup. ... That basic notion of more apples, fewer cookies and stopping when you're full that Weight Watchers is embracing makes a lot of common sense... if we take the time to respect and listen that wisdom, it will reward us in ways that, unlike a weekly points system, are incalculable."
- How Will It Affect Weight Watchers' Bottom Line? NPR's Scott Hensley wonders. NPR talked to "New York University's Lisa Sasson, a professor of nutrition and food studies, told us she thought it was a step forward for WeightWatchers to encourage members to eat more whole foods, especially lean protein and fiber. But she also wondered how much WeightWatchers plans to alter its prepackaged food offerings, which make a lot of money for the company."
- Long Time Coming, Meredith Melnick notes at Time. "The Weight Watchers change represents a general shift among nutritionists--favoring whole foods and whole grains over processed foods with long lists of ingredients--albeit several years behind."
- Look on the Bright Side, Weight Watching blogger S Is for Sarah writes. A "zero point banana?!?! now THAT could change my world..."