New Study Indicates WeightWatchers Works Regardless of Life Stressors, Including COVID-19 Pandemic

Real-World Data Gathered from the Largest Study of a Digital Weight Management Program

WW International, Inc. has announced results which found that the effects of COVID-19 on members’ weight loss and wellness journeys were short-term. These results indicate that the scalable WW digital program is able to deliver success for members even in the context of the significant behavioral and environmental barriers and disruption to routines associated with COVID and other stressful life events. While prior survey data has suggested that COVID-19 created behavioral barriers for effective weight management, this is the first study to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic affects weight loss among those enrolled in a commercially available digital weight management program.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, these findings are incredibly relevant, because we know that life will always present its stressors and that can sometimes derail our focus on  health and wellness,” said WW Chief Scientific Officer Gary Foster, PhD. “These findings can give people comfort as they move forward, that no matter the context or what happens in life, the initial challenges can be short-lived and they can rely on our proven WW program to continue to guide them on a successful health, weight loss and wellness journey.”

The real-world analysis of 1.5 million WW digital members is the largest study of a digital weight management program. The study reviewed members’ initial weight loss and engagement during a 30-week enrollment period following the beginning of the 2020 pandemic (COVID cohort) and compared the data to members who joined during the same months in 2019 (Control cohort).

Study results showed:

  • A slight decrease in weight loss among the COVID cohort during the first 7 weeks of when the pandemic struck with weight loss returning to pre-COVID levels thereafter.

  • A slight decrease in food tracking among the COVID cohort, but only for the first 3 weeks with food tracking returning to pre-COVID levels thereafter.

  • No differences in the self-monitoring of weight and activity at any time between 2 cohorts.

The decreases in weight loss and engagement were likely due to an initial shock to the system; the increase in stress and anxiety; and a disruption of healthy routines at the beginning of the pandemic. There was an observed mindful recalibration of members with a focus on developing healthy routines in a “new normal” after that initial, seven-week pandemic period.

All WW digital members can now follow the myWW+ program, which is WW’s most personalized program to date, offering a comprehensive approach to wellness. Through a deeply enriching, more interactive and personalized app experience, myWW+ offers members a plan that works best for them with a variety of tools designed to make weight loss easier. The program is rooted in WW’s scientifically proven approach to weight loss and nutrition and grounded in the SmartPoints® system and ZeroPoint™ foods. WW remains a category leader, having been ranked 11 years in a row as #1 “Best for Weight Loss” by health experts in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diets rankings.

The results will be published in the September 2021 print issue of Obesity and are funded by WW International. An abstract of the study can be found on PubMed.

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