Weight Watchers Essay Contest 2011

One of the biggest reasons people regain weight, other than pregnancy or unexpected emotional or health issues, is that they stop following the program. Well, if someone stops doing the program, it's their own fault they gain the weight back, right? It isn't quite so simple. It's not that everyone on Weight Watchers who stops counting points immediately starts binging on full cakes. Members do the system for so long, they feel like they can watch their intake without writing down every single point. That seems pretty fair.

Kelly Burch shared her history with Weight Watchers with Prevention magazine. She recounted how she regained the 50 pounds she originally lost on the program. Burch did the system successfully, felt great, and was happy eating healthy, "But after three years I was utterly sick of writing down everything I ate or entering calories into an app. I just wanted to eat intuitively and to implement what I had learned without such a structured system. So I stopped tracking, and that's when the pounds started to creep back on," she wrote. This is a very typical story, not just with Weight Watchers, but with any calorie or food tracking diet.

Weight Watchers admittedly thrives on repeat customers. The BBC reported that Richard Samber, former financial manager of Weight Watchers, said, "[Weight Watchers] is successful because the other 84 percent have to come back and do it again. That's where your business comes from." If 84 percent of people can't keep weight off the second they stop counting points, that doesn't sound like a program that's teaching you lifetime habits. It just teaches you how to keep doing Weight Watchers.

Again, don't think that Weight Watchers is terrible or completely ineffective. You should just know that if you want real results from the program, you'll be counting points for the rest of your life. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's not what most people sign up for.

Weight-loss stocks post large-scale gains

By Ben Rooney, staff reporterFebruary 17, 2011: 11:22 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- If going on a diet was your New Year's resolution this year, Wall Street is betting that you'll succeed.

Shares of Weight Watchers (WTW), the company behind the point-based diet system, surged 35% Thursday after the company issued a far better-than-expected 2011 profit outlook.

The New York-based company said it expects to earn between $3.50 and $3.85 per share this year. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters were expecting full-year earnings between $2.64 and $2.90 per share.

Weight Watchers said net income in the fourth-quarter surged 160% to $48.9 million, or 66 cents per share, from $18.7 million, or 24 cents per share, a year earlier. Full-year earnings for 2010 were also above expectations.

The blockbuster report helped boost shares of other diet companies such as NutriSystem (NTRI), which gained nearly 4% in early trading. Shares of eDiets.com (DIET), a minor player in the weight-loss business, were up 25% to about 5 cents each.

David Kirchhoff, chief executive of Weight Watchers, said the results were driven by strong demand for the company's subscription-based weight-loss products, which involve weekly meetings and Web-based dietary services.

"We are seeing terrific enrollment volumes in our North American and U.K. meeting businesses and further strengthening in our WeightWatchers.com business," he said.

Weight Watchers overhauled its points system late last year, upgrading the decades-old calorie guidelines and launching an aggressive advertising campaign.

The new "PointsPlus" system was the main force behind Weight Watcher's strong performance in the fourth quarter, said Kurt Frederick, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.

"We expected a good quarter, but not this good," he said.

The trend will probably continue in the first quarter, which is the unofficial start of "diet season," said Frederick. But earnings for diet companies such as Weight Watchers tend to taper off near the end of the year, he added, when dieters' conviction bumps up against the holiday eating season.  

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