Dear Weight Watchers…

Dear Weight Watchers….  

Or why I am so dismayed to hear that Weight Watchers is offering free memberships to teens as young as 13 this summer!

I’m sure many of you have already seen yesterday’s headline that Weight Watchers will offer free memberships to teenagers aged 13-17 this summer  to “help 10 million people adopt healthy habits.”   

I feel like I need to address this head on, because anything that promotes “healthy habits” sounds great, doesn’t it?  I’m certainly all for healthy habits!  But, the thing is: dieting is not a healthy habit!

 

Weight Watchers has the same research as I do:

  • that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) counsels against dieting and focusing on weight with adolescents because of the potential for harm;
  • that no diet plan has demonstrated sustained weight loss in more than 5% of its study cohort longer than 2 years;
  • that dieting changes our hormones to increase our hunger and decrease satiety as an evolutionary step to prevent famine;
  • that dieting often raises the ‘set point’ or weight which ones body is genetically programmed to maintain;
  • that dieting can trigger eating disorders in those who are genetically predisposed (and we can’t screen for that!)
  • that dieting, even just “healthy eating” with rules and restriction like clean eating, is a predictor of future weight gain;
  • that the deprivation-binge-shame cycle pretty much ensures that their clients WILL be back when that lost weight is regained.

Getting these teenagers hooked on Weight Watchers, and dieting in general, sets them up for a lifetime of likely weight cycling, disordered eating habits, and body dissatisfaction, while filling the pockets of the Weight Watchers shareholders.  

I’ll end with my plea: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends:  please protect the young people in your lives.  If we work together, we can defeat diet culture!

  • If you are so inspired, please sign this petition at Change.org to ask Weight Watchers and Oprah Winfrey to reconsider this initiative. 
  • Spread the message to friends, family and colleagues!