Based on the ProPoints Plan, participants eat to an allocated number of points a day. Members can attend weekly meetings in person or join online. There are also several Weight Watchers Lifestyle centres in selected department stores.
Our shadow shoppers visited two Lifestyle centres to ask about joining up.
Katherine was weighed, measured and talked through the program without being charged (although the consultant was very abrupt with her when she didn’t join up on the spot).
Andrew visited two centres, was charged for both consultations and felt pressured to sign up.
Emma, who is only five kilos away from being close to the cut-off for underweight, was refused any information about the program nor weighed or measured until she agreed to commit and pay on the spot.
At no time did any of the consultants ask our shoppers about their medical history or check they were on medication. For Andrew, who works as a chef, the ProPoints system seemed too rigid for his lifestyle as the consultant was not able to provide much information about how he would manage tasting dishes as part of his job in terms of measuring daily points.
The experts’ opinions
Our experts were disappointed at the hard sell our shadow shoppers received and concerned that Emma was being pressured to sign up without being assessed as a suitable candidate.
The lack of emphasis on exercise was a concern for GP Dr Sam Hay, as was not checking on medication or medical issues. “While it’s reasonable that these organisations don’t comment on general health issues I would expect a screen for them,” he says. “If they’re present a request for the patient to consult their doctor to ensure they are all managed appropriately is recommended.”
“The overall sales orientation of the program appears to be an issue,” says Dr Alan Barclay.