WeightWatchers Beyond the Scale

WeightWatchers is shaking up its strategy with a new ‘Beyond the Scale’ approach that puts greater focus on physical activity and wellbeing, and encourages shoppers away from foods high in sugar and satfat, and towards those high in protein.

The new strategy, billed by WeightWatchers as the biggest change to its brand in 50 years, will be launched in the UK this week.

“This is the biggest innovation in Weight Watchers’ 50 year history,” said UK general manager, Jeanine Lemmens. “We want to empower our members through food, fitness and wellbeing to not only lose weight but embrace a healthy lifestyle.”

The new programme is described as a “more holistic and personalised” approach to weight loss, and revolves around three pillars – Food. Fit. Feel. It involves SmartPoints for healthier food choices (replacing the current PointsPlus system) and FitPoints that can be earned for physical activity, while there is also a focus on ‘feeling good’.

From a grocery perspective, the SmartPoints nudge people ‘towards nutritious foods lower in sugar and satfat and higher in lean protein’. The company said a SmartPoints value is one, easy to use number that’s based on four macro nutrients: calories, protein, sugar and saturated fat. As before, nothing is off the menu, according to Weight Watchers, but instead it is all about balance, while most fresh fruits and vegetables are zero SmartPoints.

“With obesity rates in the UK continuing to rise, people more than ever need inspiration and guidance to make healthier choices in today’s food-fuelled environment, especially with the current confusion around nutrients like sugar,” said head of public health and programme at Weight Watchers, Zoe Griffiths. “With SmartPoints we have taken our strongest stance ever on eating healthier foods and have made it easy for our members to make those decisions.”

The changes have already sparked debate among users. One online forum user noted the points calculations for some foods would be “wildly different” now. “Foods high in saturated fat or sugar really got hammered.”

The new strategy is also expected to include an overhaul of its current product packaging, as well as new products.

In May, Jim Chambers, WeightWatchers International CEO, said while the underlying desire for weight loss was still very important, “the consumer wants to get there through a more holistic mindset. This suggests a compelling opportunity for WeightWatchers to take our programme beyond the scale, broadening [it] to include fitness.”

WeightWatchers launched ProPoints in 2010, hailing it as a new science-based approach at the time. In 2014, it introduced SimpleStart, a simpler diet plan without the need to count points.