Weight Watchers, wellness companies are based on lies

Dieting doesn’t work but many exploit this common consumer ignorance for financial gain



Anne Cox, associate professor of kinesiology, discusses the possible impact the new Weight Watchers rebrand could have on people and students Sept. 28 in the Smith Center for Undergraduate Education.

KRISTIN BULZOMI, Evergreen columnist

Weight Watchers rebranded itself in September, as WW and announced it would become a wellness and weight loss company. Besides updating some features and integrating well-known meditation app Headspace, this rebrand does not actually do anything meaningful to change Weight Watchers or fix the program’s flaws.

Society is afraid of fatness.

Weight has been falsely linked to health and it has become so deeply rooted that it affects every aspect of a person’s life and our society. People of size are believed to be lazy and unhealthy because that is the only explanation possible for their weight, according to societal ideas.

Weight Watchers is based on the premise that fatness is bad and unhealthy and therefore must be eliminated with its help. In reality, people come in all different shapes and sizes and no one owes you their health.

“You shouldn’t be focusing on a number on a scale to give any indication of health or well-being and certainly not as something that shapes the way you feel after you step on it,” said kinesiology professor Anne Cox.

Diets do not work.

The weight loss industry is worth $66 billion, according to estimates by MarketResearch.com. The industry and Weight Watchers are built upon the failure of their consumers.

Every time we fail a diet, we blame ourselves. We are so conditioned to believe weight is a personal failure that we do not blame the diet programs, pills or supplements we try — we blame ourselves.

We keep buying into diets thinking this will be the time they work, but they never do because long-term weight loss is not sustainable in the overwhelming majority of cases. The weight loss industry counts on this for its revenue source. It is known that we will fail, come back and try again.

Rather than dieting, embrace your body. Reframe how you see yourself and others. Show yourself compassion and appreciate the body you have and what it does for you. We only have one body and we should take care of it and love it.

“It’s loving yourself irrespective of where you are,” Cox said. “Your weight, your appearance, your degree that you have in your hand, how much money you make, whether you’re in a relationship, none of those have any bearing on your worth.”

Dieting is miserable and includes missing out on good food. Food is meant to be enjoyed, shared and cherished, not counted, weighed and carefully calculated. Health and happiness are more than what we eat; it is also in how we live. Life is enjoying what you do, who you are with, what you eat and more.

Weight Watchers has gone through many iterations and this one is no different. The company has been on the decline and bleeding subscribers, according to a report released by Weight Watchers. The pivot towards wellness cannot save a failing formula.

Weight Watchers can rebrand itself to attempt to become a wellness company, but it will never truly be one. Wellness is not about a number on a scale and the pursuit of weight loss. As long as Weight Watchers has weight loss as a part of its mission, it will never be a wellness company.