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Weight Watchers & Diabetes

By Lori Newell ; Updated July 18, 2017

For those living with type 2 diabetes, lasting weight loss is often a challenge, and external support may help. Weight Watchers is a commercial weight-loss program focusing on smart diet choices, portion control and physical activity. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), weight loss is a key factor in controlling and even preventing diabetes. The Weight Watchers approach to steady weight loss through nutrition therapy is consistent with current recommendations by the ADA. Weight Watchers now offers a new program specifically for people with diabetes.

Diabetes and Weight Loss

The current ADA guidelines for diabetes management and prevention stress the importance of weight loss in overweight and obese individuals with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. A 5 percent reduction in body weight in this group is associated with a healthier response to insulin by the body, decreased fasting blood glucose levels and reduced need for diabetes medication. The ADA recommends achieving weight loss through increased activity and a reduced intake of calories, with avoidance of saturated fats, trans fatty acids, cholesterol and sodium. The ADA also recommends structured lifestyle programs and individualized counseling, which Weight Watchers provides with weekly group meetings and one-on-one coaching.

Weight Watchers Efficacy

Like the ADA, Weight Watchers recommends portion control and calorie restriction as key elements for weight loss. An April 2015 study in the “Annals of Internal Medicine” evaluated popular commercial weight-loss programs and found that after 12 months, Weight Watchers participants achieved a 2.6 percent greater weight loss than a group receiving education and counseling alone. Weight Watchers was also 1 of only 2 commercial programs shown to keep the weight off for more than a year. A January 2005 study in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” found a trend whereby Weight Watchers participants were more likely to stick with the program at the one year mark than those in the Atkins and Ornish group.

Weight Watchers Diabetes Program

The Weight Watchers Diabetes program is specifically tailored to the dietary and activity considerations for people living with type 2 diabetes. The ADA recommends that those with diabetes carefully monitor their carbohydrate consumption by counting carbs. The Weight Watchers program provides a tool to count carbs and calories called Smart Points. Participants also have access to a certified diabetes educator. This is in alignment with the ADA’s recommendation for individuals with type 2 diabetes to receive nutrition counseling from a dietitian trained in diabetes education.


The Weight Watchers Diabetes Program is specifically tailored for individuals with type 2 diabetes and has not been tested in people with type 1 diabetes. As with any diabetes treatment, always discuss all plans with your physician and nutritionist. Those living with both diabetes and another serious medical condition like chronic heart disease should work closely with their care team to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that goes beyond a commercial weight-loss program.

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