More options and less hunger are central to Weight Watchers’ new color-coded myWW program.
For the first time, the preeminent weight-loss company, which rebranded as WW in 2018, is rolling out three customized plans simultaneously, officials shared exclusively with USA TODAY.
The Oprah Winfrey-backed company’s new plan includes whole wheat pasta, brown rice and potatoes – which have cost points in past WW programs – as “ZeroPoint” foods, meaning they don’t have to be measured or tracked.
“There’s no foods off limits on any of our programs and it’s going to be sustainable,” said Mindy Grossman, WW president and CEO, in an interview with USA TODAY. “It’s easy, it’s simple and I think that’s what people are craving for – something they can really live with.”
Medicare Part B premium 2020: Rates and deductibles rising 7% for outpatient care
Black Friday 2019: Get a jump on your holiday shopping plans with early look at ads
More options result in less hunger
The company’s latest program and plans arrive Monday, more than seven weeks before people traditionally make New Year’s resolutions that often include losing weight. Grossman said it’s the earliest the company has launched a new program.
Gary Foster, WW chief scientific officer, said the new plan took about two years to develop and it builds on science and behavioral data.
“The science is very clear on this issue,” he said. “Personalized plans get people to be more engaged and they’re more likely to make behavior changes than if they’re not personalized.”
New members will take an assessment to figure out the best plan for them while current members can choose any of the plans. The blue plan is the same as the most recent WW Freestyle plan.
There’s also the green plan with a smaller list of “ZeroPoint” foods and the new purple plan’s list has whole wheat pasta, brown rice and oatmeal.
“Balance is important. We don’t want people to just eat from a list,” Foster said. “That’s diet talk and we don’t want that.”
Not one of the plans is considered better or healthier, he said. A clinical trial found a 24% decrease in hunger overall.
“I’ve never seen a 24% reduction in hunger,” Foster said, adding they also are encouraged by other stats like 90% of people saying it’s easier to stick with. “We think there’s something great happening here.”
Keri Gans, a New York-based registered dietitian and author of “The Small Change Diet,” thinks the new program is going to appeal to more people and are a better option than fad diets that teach restriction and are not sustainable.
“There really is no one size fits all so I think by offering three new plans it’s really getting more to what would fit best for the consumer,” Gans said. “The beauty of the program to begin with is it doesn’t want you to feel stuck at all. It wants you to feel that you have freedom to choose.”
And what does Winfrey, who bought about 10% of the company in October 2015 and has since sold some of her shares, think of the new plan?
“She’s been on the plan and she’s been having fun,” Grossman said. “She’s been thrilled.”
The three plans in the myWW program all are based on the company’s SmartPoints rating system and ZeroPoint foods lists, which differ by plan. ZeroPoint foods are considered to more filling and less likely to be overeaten.
Green: With this plan, there are more than 100 ZeroPoint foods, which are fruits and vegetables. Green members get a larger SmartPoints budget and will need to track more of their meals.
Blue: Current members will recognize this plan as WW Freestyle. There are more than 200 ZeroPoint foods, which include fruits and veggies along with lean proteins, eggs, beans and nonfat yogurt.
Purple: The new plan has more than 300 ZeroPoint foods and adds grains including whole wheat pasta, potatoes to the category. Purple has a more modest SmartPoints budget.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko