Body & Fitness

Weight Watchers is axing before and after photos

The company says it's about being healthy 365 days a year, not just during diet season - but the move has been met with skepticism by health professionals.

Weight Watchers has announced that it’s ditching ‘before and after’ photos because it doesn’t want its members to believe that achieving a healthy weight is about following a short-term diet.

“It’s about being healthy 365 days a year, not just during diet season,” the company’s CEO Mindy Grossman told

The announcement was made at its international conference, where its new global strategy was revealed. A Weight Watchers spokesperson told Mirror Online: “We want to promote a journey of health, with no beginning, middle or end.”

Weight Watchers is a popular weight loss programme followed by thousands around the world. Foods are given points based on nutritional value, and members must stick within a daily limit of how many points they can consume.

But news of the strategy, that also includes plans to offer free membership to US teens, has been received with skepticism by some health professionals.

Nutritionist Jessica Campbell of Body Balance Nutrition, Auckland, agrees that before and after shots can be a “dangerous diet tool, creating a false image of what success looks like long term”.

“These pictures say… that the body, and person who lives in it starts off as unworthy and not to be celebrated, and the body they’ve starved is worthy of celebration.”

However, she is concerned that the move is simply an attempt to remain relevant.

“Weight Watchers realise that ‘dieting’ just like the ‘clean eating movement’ is falling out of favour with consumers.

“There is a lot of work being done in the non-diet and eating disorder community to educate and empower men and women to understand that companies like Weight Watchers are ultimately selling a programme that cannot, and does not, show long-term weight loss success – and, in fact, puts consumers at significant risk for developing an eating disorder.

“We work with men and women who have been seriously affected by years of yo-yo dieting, often repeatedly engaging in programmes offered by weight loss brands such as Weight Watchers. We know the harms and we aren’t willing to be part of that cycle.

“We want our clients to ultimately feel capable of relying on their own internal cues for making food choices not looking to someone else, a meal plan or a calorie point system to tell them what, when or how much to eat.”

Auckland dietitian Sarah Peck states, “My biggest issue with Weight Watchers moving into the body positive space is that no amount of body acceptance or body positive talk is going to neutralise the act of stepping on a scale every week to find out your worth.”

The world of weight management has changed dramatically since Weight Watchers’ inception in America in 1963.

Where once it was the norm to ‘go on a diet’ to lose weight, now the focus is on eating intuitively, learning to listen to your body, making lifelong lifestyle changes and adjusting your mindset so that healthy eating and being active become part of day-to-day life.

Oprah Winfrey attributed Weight Watchers for her 18kg weight loss.

Over the years Weight Watchers has been fronted by a number of celebrities.

Sarah Ferguson became a Weight Watchers brand ambassador in 1997 at age 38, and remained the face for the programme for 11 years.

Other famous faces include Jenny McCarthy and Jessica Simpson.

Grammy-Award winning singer and actress, Jennifer Husdon, became a spokeswoman for the company in 2010 and went from a size 16 to a 6.

Oprah Winfrey, who has talked openly about her struggles with her weight over the years, attributed Weight Watchers to her 18kg weight loss in 2016.

In 2015 Weight Watchers’ shares soared after Oprah announced she was buying a 10 per cent stake in the company.

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