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Weight Watchers: Fruits, veggies free with new system

Fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples are now “free” in the Weight Watchers program. Weight Watchers lauched its PointsPlus program this week. | Courtesy photo

In an effort to help dieters realize that there’s a healthy difference between items with the same caloric value, Weight Watchers introduced its news PointsPlus program this week.

With the new system, Weight Watchers officials aim to help dieters realize that a 100-calorie apple is a healthier choice than a 100-calorie bag of potato chips.

While calorie-counting has been the foundation of many weight loss programs, including the Weight Watchers Points System, the new PointsPlus program goes beyond just calories, to help people make healthful and satisfying choices. The new formula takes into account the energy contained in each of the components that make up calories – protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber – and it also factors how hard the body works to process them (conversion cost) as well their respective eating satisfaction (satiety).

Fresh fruits and vegetables are now free – meaning they are zero points on the Weight Watchers’ scale; however, dried fruits and starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn still have points assigned to them.

Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that may help protect people from chronic diseases, the CDC reports.

Locally, Weight Watchers participants kicked off the new program Monday night.

“I like it so far,” said participant Parecia Taylor of Andalusia. “With the new system, calories are not used. You count protein and fiber and things like that. And your actual points have increased.”

Taylor said she likes the change and believes it will be a better suit because before participants had to count their fruits, but not anymore.

“Before a lot of your vegetables were free, but your fruits were not,” she said. “You can eat all the fruits you want. I’m very much excited. It encourages you more toward fiber and protein and away from starches and sugars because your body expends them better.”

“Our new PointsPlus program is based on the latest scientific research and is designed to guide people to food that are nutrient dense and highly satisfying, ensuring they will make healthful decisions, have successful weight loss and learn to keep their weight off long-term,” said Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer.

Using the research, the program goes far beyond traditional calorie counting to give people the edge they need to lose weight and keep it off in a fundamentally healthier way.

The program is designed to educate and encourage people to make choices that include favoring foods the body works harder to convert into energy, resulting in fewer net calories absorbed.

Additionally, dieters should focus on foods that create a sense of fullness and satisfaction and those that are healthier.

Natural foods are promoted rather than foods with excess added sugars and fats, while still allowing the flexibility for occasional indulgences and eating out.

“We are confident that PointsPlus is the best program Weight Watchers has ever offered not only to help American lose weight and make smarter food choices, but also to combat the nation’s growing obesity epidemic,” said David Kirchhoff, president and CEO of Weight Watchers. “We are changing the way Americans view calories and select their food. Our new program will not only deliver weight loss success, it will help transform America’s eating habits and the way we make our food choices.”

Locally, a Weight Watchers meeting is held on Mondays at 6 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Fellowship Hall.