Community Weight Loss: Weight Watchers Vs. Slimming World
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January is one months in the year where many people decide to embark on a new diet to desperately shed the evidence of their Christmas indulgence. When it comes to choosing a suitable diet plan, there are literally thousands to choose from. There are many online, app, DVD and book based plans now readily available so people can lose weight privately in the comfort of their own home. Yet, still many people are opting to cut the calories with the help of others at weight loss groups.
We asked our panel to choose between two of the major players in the weight loss game, Weight Watchers and Slimming World. In addition to championing or condemning their selected company, we asked the respondents whether they felt that being part of one of these communities really did motivate and help people lose weight.
Almost everyone on the panel had heard of or seen marketing campaigns from Weight Watchers, which established them as the most eminent company in the field. In particular, customers were aware that there are many Weight Watchers branded snacks, ready meals and other food items available for them to buy in supermarkets. Generally, the panel had an extremely positive attitude towards the brand. Many of them shared others or their own success stories.
‘I have recently just lost a stone in 6 months with Weight Watchers’ (Ruth, 35, Basingstoke)
Hosted in a community setting, the Weight Watchers programme offers a number of varied comprehensive eating plans to suit a wide range of diets. People liked the way they were able to choose their own meals and (generally) eat whatever they wanted, as long as it remained within the points goal which was personally tailored to them. Customers felt that this method of weight loss, which did not force members to cut out specific ‘naughty’ foods, helped them adapt their relationship with food and make it healthier, instead of changing it completely.
‘The plan Weight Watchers have online is much more sustainable to your life style’ (Yasmin, 23, Manchester)
‘The points system was great. You can eat what you want, as long as you stay within your points’ (Andrew, 34, Edinburgh)
‘It educates you that you can have some naughty stuff, but it means you can’t have as much of everything else’ (Craig, 42, Kingston-Upon-Thames)
‘Weight Watchers seem easy to understand, the staff seemed friendly and it seems really well organised’ (Rebecca, 22, Sheffield)
The majority of the panel said they had heard of Slimming World, but many claimed they had seen less advertising campaigns and products created by the brand than they had for Weight Watchers. However, nearly half of the panel who said they had attended a weight loss group were passionate advocates of Slimming World. Again, we received floods of glowing success stories.
‘In my first month and a half I lost a stone and a half at Slimming World’ (Lucy, 21, Stoke-On-Trent)
In contrast to the Weight Watchers diet, the Slimming World plan allows you to have an unlimited amount of food that is included in the Free Food list. Moreover, the recipes in the guide emulate meals which are usually considered unhealthy. For example, Sunday roasts, big bowls of pasta and curries. People felt that Slimming World encouraged people to prepare their own fresh food and liked that they were still able to eat lots of carbohydrates, which are banned in many diets. Customers claimed they were never hungry.
‘I find Slimming World easy to follow and I never feel hungry’ (Jo, 43, Beverly)
‘They offer realistic food options’ (Sue, 52, Hockley)
‘It is without a doubt the best weight loss group’ (Kat, 33, Chester)
Losing weight as a community – does it work?
The idea of community weight loss sparked debate amongst the panel. Many members of the panel maintained that they would never attend a weight loss group because they they would feel embarrassed when they had failed lose weight. Yet, for many others this is precisely the motivating factor! Customers of both Slimming World and Weight Watchers said that having someone else track your weight loss progress was encouraging. The fear of being embarrassed actually motivated them to lose weight!
However, what seems central to the ethos of both these weight loss groups is the community spirit. At both clubs, customers said they felt supported and encouraged by other people who were in exactly the same position as they were.
‘There’s no doubt about it, if you’re a sociable person than these groups can help you lose weight’ (Sam, 63, Port-Glasgow)
‘It’s like a little community – everyone shares ideas and recipes’ (Kerry, 36, Mildenhall)
‘I think being part of a community, like Slimming World, motivates you because you have the embarrassment of putting on weight and you are part of a team’ (Rosie, 26, Wolverhampton)
Overall, the divide between Weight Watchers customers and Slimming World customers was almost even. Both companies have a respectable reputation and many people have reaped the success of their plans. There were, of course, many sceptics who were ensure about the worth of these groups. They believed that individuals have to motivate themselves to lose weight and can do it just as easily independently. However, those who have used weight loss groups in the past were adamant that they could not have lost the weight without the support of the Weight Watchers and Slimming World community.