The truth about... the Weight Watchers Diet

Weight Watchers is the big grey pants of the diet world. Nothing glam about it, but it does the job.

Weight watchers

The Weight Watchers formula, with its weekly meetings and public weigh-ins, has been parodied by comedians everywhere. But its great results speak volumes. And now that Weight Watchers has shaken off its fuddy duddy image with an online version you can follow at home, it's managed to squeeze itself back onto the dieting A-list alongside Atkins and the GI diet.

The theory

The ever-popular Weight Watchers diet offers a simple way to count calories without having to actually count calories. Portions of food are allocated points values according to the calories and saturated fats they contain and you are allocated a daily limit of points you're allowed to consume. You can also earn more points to use by doing exercise and a weekly weigh-in and pep-talk by your Weight Watchers leader helps to keep you out of the biscuit tin.

The upside

No food is off limits which means you can have a little of what you fancy and you're more likely to stick to the diet. Some foods like vegetables are point-free so you can have as much as you like, and you definitely won't go hungry. Weight loss is slow, sustained and healthy and you're allowed the odd tipple!

The downside

It can be a bit of a fiddle to calculate the points values of your favourite recipes so unless you make a concerted effort, you can start to rely a lot on processed and convenience foods. Unless you're sensible, you could use up all of your points on nutritionally poor foods that are low calorie.

Does it work?

Yes. Following Weight Watchers will ensure you lose 1-2lb a week, the amount recommended by experts to maintain good health. It's a relatively easy plan to work into a busy lifestyle, so you're more likely to stick to it.