May 8, 2001

In my opinion, Weight Watchers is an institutionalized eating disorder. The members talk about nothing but the food they can’t eat all day long. Food is the enemy and must be demonized. Weight Watchers may claim to be about the positives, but having lived among Them for the last year I can tell you that members think of food in nothing but terms of reward and punishment. That is bad. But what’s worse is that they fixate on and analyze every morsal that goes into everyone’s mouths. They inject food, points, and value judgements into every conversation possible.

Consequently, those around the True Weight Watchers Believers must eat only in secret or risk being lectured about what we’re eating. I have some friends who’ve seen the light. I just tried to eat a Luna Bar.* in a public place. Big big mistake. Huge mistake. Mistake I will never make again.

Suddenly, I was surrounded. “How many points does that have?” They demanded. Something in my brain misfired, and I very evenly replied “Eleven million.” This, my friends, was the wrong answer. I expected retaliation for my deadpan sarcasm, but instead of getting angry, they confiscated my snack and started analyzing the ingredients!

Luna bars failed the test. They couldn’t tell me why exactly. They didn’t seem to understand why, exactly. I guess it’s because a) they’re nutritious and b) they don’t earn the almighty Weight Watchers a kick-back, as they are neither a branded product nor a product with the Weight Watchers seal and points value emblazened on the side.

They bray about how they can eat ‘anything they want” but for lunch they seem to stick to Weight Watchers brand frozen foods and bags of Weight Watchers brand unflavored microwave popcorn (washed down with 6 gallons of water).

Thankfully, they seem to be afraid to try and recruit me into their cult, but they’ve offended plenty of others around me with their insinuations that Weight Watchers could improve their lives. That seems like harrassment to me, but what do I know?

I do know that failure rates for money-sucking weight-loss programs are incredibly high (between 90 and 95 percent), and that these programs prey on people with self-esteem issues. The “support” meetings (which cost you roughly 14 bucks a pop) are apparently not great for your mental health either, as this epinion Humiliation, Plain and Simple illustrates. I’ve heard plenty of horror stories from real, live people too so please don’t write to me and tell me that this woman’s experience is unique.

The Federal Trade Commission held a conference about consumers, health and the weight loss industry not long after they busted weight watchers for deceptive advertising. That’s why they have all that teeny-tiny fine print at the bottom of their ads now, but it doesn’t stop them. Not one bit. The report makes very interesting reading.

If you ever go to an office building and find that most of the workers are avoiding the lunchroom and eating in secret at their desks, you can bet money that there’s a Weight Watchers at Work group in existence and they can’t wait to find out exactly what you’re going to eat next so they can passive-aggressively demonstrate their own will-power by explaining to you exactly why they would never eat such a thing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

*as a sidenote, I prefer Odwalla Bars, but I was out and too lazy to go out and get one and I had Luna Bars in my desk. I like them both, I just prefer Odwalla’s.

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