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How science makes wellness personal for WW members
Science-backed, personalized approaches to weight loss, like WeightWatchers' PersonalPoints™ Program, produce clinically significant, sustainable results.
The science is pretty clear. One-size-fits-all approaches to weight loss don’t produce clinically significant results over the long term. What works for one person won’t necessarily be effective for someone else.
Instead, research consistently demonstrates that customized programs that flex to meet people at different points along their wellness journeys lead to greater engagement and, in turn, greater weight loss.
That's why science is at the heart of everything we do at WW (WeightWatchers). For example, our PersonalPoints™ Program combines cutting-edge nutrition and behavior science to make weight management simpler and more personalized for our members. How? I'd love to explain. Translating and amplifying the latest science behind weight loss and wellness is one of my favorite parts of my job.
The algorithm behind WW’s PersonalPoints is based on much more than calories. Determining a food's point value takes nutritional quality into account and looks at saturated and unsaturated fat, added sugar, fiber, and protein. Saturated fat and added sugar increase the point value of a food. Unsaturated fat, fiber, and protein decrease the point value.
As members work to reach their weight management goals, the PersonalPoints Program helps make nutritional decisions easier while also nudging them toward an overall healthier pattern of eating. Let’s be real. Nutrition labels are confusing. There are 19 lines of data to decipher. What are you supposed to look at – the calories? Sugar? Fiber? Protein? Saturated fat or total fat? The science-based PersonalPoints algorithm takes all of the really complex nutritional data and simplifies it into one number.
WW’s science in action
Along with informing the PersonalPoints algorithm, science is the foundation that enables the program to be personalized to each member’s needs and food preferences. The data shows that the program not only helps members reach their weight-related goals, but it also helps them make healthier choices, improve their quality of life, and enhance overall well-being. In other words, it’s a holistic approach that goes beyond weight into wellness.
The results from WW’s recent clinical trial that examined our diabetes-tailored PersonalPoints Program provide a perfect example. Participants in the six-month clinical trial saw significant improvements in their blood sugar levels and weight. Maybe even more importantly, they also reported significant decreases in diabetes distress.
For people living with diabetes, it takes a lot of energy to monitor their blood sugar and ensure they’re eating the foods that will keep it on track. The related stress can be measured using the diabetes distress scale, a validated scientific tool. In WW’s clinical trial, average diabetes distress scores decreased significantly, with participants going from moderate levels of diabetes distress at the start to low levels by the end of the six months. The areas that improved the most were related to the emotional burden of diabetes and regimen-related distress, showing participants felt better about living with diabetes and more confident about their day-to-day ability to manage it.
We were thrilled to see these results because, at the end of the day, we don’t just want to make our members healthier, we want to make their lives better. Members using the diabetes-tailored program saw improvements in weight-related quality of life. We also saw a considerable improvement in self-esteem, which is really encouraging.
Wellness that works
In a category that sees a lot of pseudoscience and misinformation, WW's science-backed and science-proven approach stand out. We always do clinical research to test the effectiveness of programs before they're ever launched. To date, we've published over 130 peer-reviewed scientific publications and conducted 35 randomized control trials, making WW the most studied weight management program. In fact, the science behind WW's program is why we say it's wellness that works!
About the Author
Michelle Cardel, Ph.D, M.S., R.D., WeightWatchers Senior Director, Global Clinical Research and Nutrition, is an obesity and nutrition scientist and registered dietitian with a focus on the development and implementation of evidence-based healthy lifestyle strategies. She serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine and an Associate Director for the University’s Center for Integrative Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease. She has authored more than 100 scientific publications and received numerous honors, including the Excellence in Emerging Outcomes Research award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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