Star ratings reflect scores of 1 to 5 assigned to Weight Watchers in seven categories by nutritionists, specialists in diabetes and heart disease, and other diet experts on a ratings panel assembled by U.S. News. (See our Best Diets methodology.) Panelists’ scores tallied up to an overall rating of nearly 4 stars, placing Weight Watchers among the top-ranked diets. The experts deemed it the easiest diet to stick to as well as the weight-loss winner. Below, ratings in all categories and how the experts’ opinions broke down.
Short-Term Weight Loss
Weight Watchers claims you can shed up to 2 pounds a week, and a high score suggests our experts back its ability to deliver quick results. The program outperformed all but two other diets in this category, earning 4 stars. Dieters can expect to lose a significant amount of weight within the first year—and likely keep it off.
Long-Term Weight Loss
No diet scored higher than 3½ stars, but thanks to its emphasis on a balanced diet with no restrictions, experts considered Weight Watchers No. 1 in this category. They also appreciated the program’s support system, which helps dieters keep the pounds off.
Easy to Follow
No other diet outperformed Weight Watchers on this measure. Why? You’ll get enough to eat, you don’t have to eliminate any favorites, and there’s a strong emphasis on emotional support, which tends to lead to higher compliance.
Experts were impressed with the nutritional soundness of Weight Watchers, scoring it higher than most other diets. They said the program promotes healthy, balanced eating. It’s in line with the government’s recommendations for fat, protein, and carb consumption, and getting enough of all the important nutrients is doable.
Weight Watchers got high marks for being safe. Dieters don’t have to worry about health risks like not getting enough key nutrients, or losing weight too rapidly, experts said. No indications of serious side effects have surfaced, and the program is safe for almost everyone.
The diet earned its lowest score in this category. However, it still edged out some of the other approaches. Being overweight is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and since the diet can help shed pounds, it may have a positive effect.
For Heart Health
Research suggests Weight Watchers helps lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels—both risk factors for heart disease. Consequently, the program stacked up fairly well against other heart-healthy diets, though it wasn’t among the absolute best.
Last updated by Angela Haupt | December 13, 2013