The objective of any diet is to achieve the
dieter’s desired weight (goal) and successfully maintain it.
I am sure most people, particularly those who
like myself have tried multiple diets over the years, know that diets don’t
In episode 1 of The Men Who Made Us Thin (BBC),
presenter Jacques Peretti looked at several diets, including Weight Watchers,
Slim-Fast and the Dukan diet.
The diet industry is an industry that generates
enormous profits and many of the brand names are owned by food manufactures:
- Weight Watchers was bought by Heinz in
1978. It was later sold to investment fund Artel. They paid £735 million and
to date have made £ 3.8 billion in profits.
- Sim-Fast is owned by Unilever.
- Jenny Craig is owned by Nestlé.
Normally one equates commercial profits with
success, but in the case of the diet industry the opposite is true i.e. failure
(dieters) grantees business success. Weight Watchers typifies the diet industry
reliance on failure.
Following his analysis of Weight Watchers own
statistics, Dr Carl Henegan an expert in clinical trials (Oxford University)
concluded that Weight Watchers was not effective. After 2 years only 20% of
Weight Watcher dieters (best examples) had managed to maintain their goal
weight. After 5 years the figure falls to 16%.
“After 40 years of dieting”, said, Dr Henegan,
“When are people going to wake up and say that ‘this is not the answer’ ”?
In the programme Jacques Peretti discussed the
financial success of Weight Watchers with the companies former Financial
Director Richard Samber, who held the role for 25 years (1968-1993). During
those 25 years Weight Watchers turnover increased from $8 million to $300
Question (Jacques Peretti): How effective is
being on Weight Watchers long term?
Answer: “It’s hard. You have to follow the diet
and there are a lot of distractions. Just look at all the food in there”, he
said indicating the restaurant.
“You have to be motivated to get to your goal. If
you drop out …maybe something happens and you come along and try again.
“You play the lottery ticket. If you don’t win
you play again; maybe you will win the second time”. He laughs.
Question (Jacques Peretti): “Even using Weight
Watchers own statistics …its sought of total ..failure. And I wonder just how on
earth a business that is so huge can be based on blatant failure?”
Answer: “Well…. it is successful because the
other 84% have to come back and do it again. That’s where your business comes
“I have to take my hat off to you”, said Jacques
Peretti. You have a business where if it actually worked the business would be
“That what they said!” Laughed Mr Samber.
Diets don’t work for individuals (vast majority)
who want to permanently lose weight. However, if you are selling the dream
of weight loss, huge current and future profit (worldwide rise in obesity
levels) is certainly possible.