Why Weight Watchers succeeds: Meetings provide a blend of spirituality and therapy

Aug 24, 2009

Weight Watchers is the world's largest support group, with more than 1.5 million members worldwide. What makes overweight consumers turn to this organization for help? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says dieters are attracted to its combination of spirituality and therapy.

Authors Risto Moisio (California State University, Long Beach) and Mariam Beruchashvili (California State University, Northridge) undertook observations of weekly Weight Watchers meetings and conducted interviews with female members and group leaders. They conclude that Weight Watchers provides a powerful service to its clientele.

"Even if Weight Watchers' advertisements make it sound as if it were only about , the social function of weekly meetings extends far beyond the tricks of the weight loss trade," write the authors.

Interviewing members and observing meetings taught the researchers that Weight Watchers aids dieters' pursuit of well-being in a world that fails to understand them. "Pursuing weight loss is an immensely daunting project fraught with many troubles, whether psychological, social, or physical. To overcome these challenges, consumers turn to Weight Watchers."

Members of Weight Watchers seek to alleviate many psychological traumas they link to their struggles with weight, the authors found. "As consumers evolve into full-fledged Weight Watchers members, the support group becomes their spiritual and therapeutic companion," the authors write.

For many members, weekly meetings are crucial for their well-being. "The presence of fellow Weight Watchers is equally therapeutic as it is spiritual: it transforms the support group into a greater, spiritual power that engenders therapeutic aid to members struggling with their diets," the authors write. "The support group gives meaning to members' at times trauma-ridden overweight condition, grants forgiveness for members' weight loss failures, offers valued oversight and overarching guidance needed to make it through the trials and tribulations of the week, as well as casting the occasional weight-loss successes in a veneer of much-needed glamour," the authors conclude.

More information: Risto Moisio and Mariam Beruchashvili. "Questing for Well-Being at Weight Watchers: The Role of Spiritual-Therapeutic Model in a Support Group." : February 2010 (published online July 23, 2009).

Source: University of Chicago (news : web)

Explore further: More than half of biology majors are women, yet gender gaps remain in science classrooms

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Weight Watchers vs. fitness centers

Jul 02, 2008

In the first study of its kind, using sophisticated methods to measure body composition, the nationally known commercial weight loss program, Weight Watchers, was compared to gym membership programs to find out which method ...

Study shows why weight gain is inevitable

May 09, 2006

Denmark's National Exercise and Nutrition Council says it has found people cannot lose more than 5 percent to 10 percent of their weight through dieting.

Recommended for you

Modern population boom traced to pre-industrial roots

11 hours ago

The foundation of the human population explosion, commonly attributed to a sudden surge in industrialization and public health during the 18th and 19th centuries, was actually laid as far back as 2,000 years ...

Researcher looks at the future of higher education

12 hours ago

Most forecasts about the future of higher education have focused on how the institutions themselves will be affected – including the possibility of less demand for classes on campus and fewer tenured faculty members as ...

Now we know why it's so hard to deceive children

13 hours ago

Daily interactions require bargaining, be it for food, money or even making plans. These situations inevitably lead to a conflict of interest as both parties seek to maximise their gains. To deal with them, ...

User comments : 0