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Weight Watchers Success Rate: A Comprehensive Examination (2024)

Explore the success rate of the Weight Watchers program through a deep dive into various studies and real-world outcomes. Discover the pros and cons, and learn how factors like community support and personal motivation play a crucial role in the journey towards a healthier lifestyle with Weight Watchers.

Article Summary

Explore the success rate of the Weight Watchers program through a deep dive into various studies and real-world outcomes. Discover the pros and cons, and learn how factors like community support and personal motivation play a crucial role in the journey towards a healthier lifestyle with Weight Watchers.

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Rob's extensive expertise in evidence-based weight loss interventions, backed by rigorous peer-reviewed research, has established him as a credible authority in the field. As a clinical research associate (CRA), Rob has tested new applications for their effectiveness, risks and benefits to ensure that they are safe for consumers.

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Article updated on:

January 2, 2024

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This article delves into the success rate of Weight Watchers, exploring various peer reviewed studies and expert opinions and factors that contribute to the effectiveness of the program.

Key Takeaways:

  • Weight Watchers employs a points-based system to foster healthy eating habits and support weight loss.
  • Various studies have shown a moderate success rate, with 25-65% of participants achieving a significant weight loss.
  • Factors like meeting attendance, adherence to the diet plan, incorporation of exercise, and high motivation levels substantially influence the success rate.
  • Some notable advantages of Weight Watchers include its structured program, social support, and promotion of a balanced diet without extreme restrictions.
Aspect Details
Program Approach Points-based system, group support, nutrition education, behavior modification
Short-Term Weight Loss Average loss of 4.6% in 12-week study on postmenopausal women; 5% to 8.5% loss in various studies over 3-12 months
Comparison to Other Diets Moderate success, positioned in the middle among other popular diets
Comparison to Self-Guided Nearly 5x greater weight loss
Predictors of Success Higher meeting attendance, high self-efficacy, lower baseline weight
Long-Term Maintenance Limited data; 50% maintained at least 5% weight loss 1 year after stopping
Overall Efficacy Modest but meaningful weight loss (~5% on average); more effective than self-guided dieting

Weight Watchers Success Rate

According to a collection of studies, between 25 to 65 out of 100 people were able to lose at least 5% of their starting weight while on Weight Watchers for 12 weeks to a year. This shows that Weight Watchers can work for many people, although the success varies a lot from person to person.

How Much Weight Can You Lose?

Studies show that people using Weight Watchers for 12 weeks lost about 4.6% of their weight on average.

  • In another study, when compared to other diets, Weight Watchers was in the middle when it came to how much weight people lost.
  • Over two years, people on Weight Watchers lost about 5.3% of their starting weight which is better than those not on the program.

Keeping the Weight Off

  • It's one thing to lose weight, but another to keep it off. One study found that half of the people could keep at least 5% of their weight off a year after stopping Weight Watchers. This is promising but more research is needed to see how well it works in the long-term.

What Helps in Losing More Weight?

  • People who attended more meetings and believed they could control their eating did better on Weight Watchers.
  • Also, those who were not very overweight to start with did better.

Is Weight Watchers Better than Dieting on Your Own?

  • One study found that people on Weight Watchers lost almost 5 times more weight than those who were trying to diet on their own. This shows the benefit of having a structured program and support.

Special Cases

  • Interestingly, one study found that Weight Watchers could be helpful for overweight women who want to become pregnant.

Overall Success

  • Overall, between 25 to 65 out of 100 people were able to lose at least 5% of their starting weight while on Weight Watchers for 12 weeks to a year. This shows that Weight Watchers can work for many people, although the success varies a lot from person to person.
In a nutshell, Weight Watchers can help people lose a modest amount of weight, and possibly keep it off. The support from meetings and the structured point system seem to help. However, it might work better for some people than others, and keeping the weight off in the long run still needs more research.

Peer Reviewed Evidence

Various studies have highlighted that Weight Watchers tends to yield moderate yet significant weight loss in participants. Here are some pivotal statistics on weight loss:

  • A study spanning 12 weeks conducted on postmenopausal women showcased an average weight loss of 4.6% with Weight Watchers.
  • A clinical trial over a year that compared Weight Watchers to other popular diets found average weight loss ranging from 2.1% to 8.5% across the diets, positioning Weight Watchers in the middle, as per a study.
  • A 2010 randomized controlled trial discovered that post 2 years, Weight Watchers participants lost an average of 5.3% of their initial weight compared to only 1.3% in the control group receiving usual care.
  • A meta-analysis of 6 studies on meal replacement plans like Weight Watchers found average weight loss ranging from 5% to 8.5% over 3-12 months.

Factors that predict greater weight loss success include higher attendance at meetings, higher self-efficacy (confidence) in ability to control eating, and lower baseline weight.

  • Weight Watchers has been found more effective for weight loss compared to self-guided dieting, resulting in nearly 5x greater weight loss in one study.

Long-Term Weight Loss Maintenance

Data on long-term weight maintenance after Weight Watchers is limited as most studies follow participants for 1 year or less.

  • One study found that 1 year after stopping Weight Watchers, 50% of participants maintained at least 5% weight loss.

More research is needed on long-term weight maintenance after Weight Watchers. But some studies suggest commercial programs with ongoing support like Weight Watchers may be more effective for maintenance than diet programs without continued intervention.

Research shows Weight Watchers can produce modest but meaningful weight loss of approximately 5% on average when followed as prescribed. It appears more effective than self-guided dieting. However, long-term data is limited. Participant factors like self-efficacy and program engagement impact success.

Studies Evaluating Success Rate

Several studies have aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of Weight Watchers:

  • A 2021 study indicated similar clinical pregnancy rates across different BMI groups, including overweight and obese women engaged in a Weight Watchers program, hinting at its effectiveness for weight loss among women aspiring to conceive.
  • A 2019 pilot Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) showed women referred to Weight Watchers lost between 3.7-6 kg over 12 weeks, with 40-64% of them losing ≥5% of their baseline weight.
  • A 2018 study illustrated that 64% of Weight Watchers participants maintained at least 5% weight loss after one year.

These findings collectively highlight a moderate success rate among Weight Watchers participants, with a range of 25-65% losing ≥5% of their starting weight over a span of 12 weeks to one year.

Factors Influencing Weight Loss Success

Attendance and Support

Regular attendance at weekly meetings is correlated with greater weight loss success. These meetings provide education, accountability, and support, which are crucial for maintaining motivation and adherence to the program.

Diet Adherence and Exercise

Adhering closely to the Weight Watchers diet plan and incorporating exercise significantly boosts the likelihood of weight loss success.

Pros and Cons of Weight Watchers


  • Structured Program and Social Support: The well-structured program and strong community support are pivotal in keeping participants on track.
  • Promotes Healthy, Balanced Diet: Unlike many fad diets, Weight Watchers promotes a balanced, nutritious diet without imposing extreme restrictions.
  • Flexible Points-Based System: The SmartPoints system offers flexibility, allowing individuals to make food choices that suit their preferences while staying within their points budget.


  • In-Person Meeting Requirement: The necessity for frequent in-person meetings can be inconvenient for some individuals.
  • Membership and Materials Cost: There's a financial commitment involved in purchasing a membership and materials, which might deter some individuals3.

Comparative Analysis: Weight Watchers vs. Other Programs

A comparative examination between Weight Watchers and other popular weight loss programs like Noom and E2M concerning cost, effectiveness, and real-life success stories can provide a balanced view on how Weight Watchers fares against its competitors.

Weight Watchers could consider expanding its focus to encompass holistic wellness beyond just weight loss. By including modules or resources on stress management, sleep hygiene, and mental well-being, the program could provide a more comprehensive approach to health. This holistic approach might also address some of the reasons why individuals struggle with weight management in the first place.

Weight Watchers’ Design and User Experience

Exploring the key design choices in Weight Watchers' program, like the SmartPoints system and its impact on user experience, sheds light on how these elements contribute to the program’s success rate and overall user satisfaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Average Weight Loss Rate on Weight Watchers?

Studies showcase that the average weight loss on Weight Watchers ranges from about 2-8% of the starting weight over a span of 3-12 months. This typically translates to around 1-2 lbs per week.

How Many People Gain Weight Back After Weight Watchers?

There's limited data on the long-term, but one study found that 50% of the participants maintained at least 5% weight loss a year after halting the Weight Watchers program. More research is essential to get a clearer picture.

How Much Weight Can You Lose in a Month with Weight Watchers?

On average, monthly weight loss on Weight Watchers is around 1-3 lbs. However, this can vary based on how well participants stick to the program among other factors.

What is the Average First Week Weight Loss on Weight Watchers?

There aren't studies specifically reporting the first week weight loss on Weight Watchers. However, it's common to see a rapid initial drop in water weight of 2-5 lbs in the first 1-2 weeks on low-calorie diets.

How Long Will it Take to Lose 25 Pounds with Weight Watchers?

Based on the average monthly loss of 1-3 lbs, it could take about 8-25 months to lose 25 lbs with Weight Watchers, assuming a steady progress. The time can vary significantly among different individuals.

How Many People Fail Weight Watchers?

Failure rates aren't well documented. But studies indicate that 25-65% of people lose ≥5% of starting weight over 12 weeks to 1 year. So conversely, 35-75% failed to achieve this milestone in the stated timeframes.

What is the Negative Side of Weight Watchers?

Some potential downsides include the cost for membership/materials, high dropout rates, modest long-term weight loss compared to other programs, and a heavy reliance on motivation, which can be tough to sustain.

What is the Controversy with Weight Watchers?

There hasn't been major controversies found with Weight Watchers specifically. Some critics argue the program may not be as effective in the long-term compared to other diet approaches.

Why Doesn't Weight Watchers Work for Me Anymore?

If Weight Watchers isn’t working anymore, reasons could include diminishing motivation, failure to track points accurately, consuming high point foods, life stresses, metabolic adaptation, or the need for a more intensive intervention. Consulting a doctor or dietitian may help identify the factors.

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