Weight Watchers, Oprah Winfrey Launch 'Beyond the Scale' Campaign


As Americans already begin to look at their post-holiday resolutions, Weight Watchers -- one of the biggest names in weight loss -- is undergoing a makeover of its own.

In a world of Fitbits and numerous weight loss apps, the weight loss company is waging an updated war against obesity. Today it's launching a new program, along with its new logo and new fitness app.

The new approach is designed to help people shift their mindset, according to Lisa Straub, a Weight Watchers leader. Leaders conduct group meetings, shows members how to follow the plan and motivate them to achieve their goals.

“People would really spend a lot of time trying to figure out, ‘How do I get my Doritos in? Oh, I can do it if I kind of adjust this and adjust that,’” Straub said of the previous Points Plus Program. “Now it’s not as important for them to make sure how they’re getting their Doritos in.”

“It’s much more important for them to say, ‘What am I putting in my body?’” she added.

The new campaign, “Beyond the Scale,” comes at an important time for the 53-year-old Weight Watchers, which had faced a period of membership and revenue decline.

In October, Oprah Winfrey announced that she bought a 10 percent stake in the company and joined its board.

Winfrey, 61, calls herself a “bona fide convert” in an essay set to be published in next month’s issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.

“I’ve wishy-washed with diets and exercise my whole life. Now I’m ready to go beyond the scale and declare a new way of being in the world,” Winfrey writes. “The folks at Weight Watchers called me in July and asked if I’d join their team and help spread the message about taking a holistic approach to health and fitness.”

“For me, this was a perfect alignment. I was fed up with my lose-and-gain-again routine. I’d had enough of no-carb regimens. Some people can live without bread and pasta, but it just doesn’t make sense to me,” Winfrey continues. “All the times I tried to do so only made me crave them more. I wanted a plan for life, and here it was in the form of Weight Watchers. For me, this is not a diet. It’s a whole shift in perspective. So yes, for sure, I’m a bona fide convert.”

Weight Watchers said the changes seen in the “Beyond the Scale” campaign were in place long before Winfrey came on-board.

“We still produce weight loss,” Gary Foster, Weight Watchers’ chief scientific officer, told ABC News. “Now we’re enhancing our program based on the latest science ... like healthy eating, being more fit and making time to take care of yourself.”

Three women who were part of a test group in New Jersey said the campaign’s new focus on their physical and emotional health made losing weight more fun.

“I feel like it’s more of a mental breakthrough that you have to have in order to start to lose the weight,” said Danielle Whritenour.

“It’s more about the positive things,” added Angela Lapara. “Things that you can have, that you can do.”

And Leanne Esterly finds the plan easier than before, saying: “You know you had to literally look up the points and it was really tedious.”

All three women said they plan to stick with it. Esterly has lost 30 pounds, Whritenour has lost 18 pounds and Lapara is down 50 pounds.

Weight Watchers says 38 of the 40 participants in its trial program lost weight on the new plan.

Although Weight Watchers has made changes, one well-known aspect of the program – the weekly weigh-ins – will stay the same.

“We are going to do weigh-ins because it’s an important metric, but not the only metric,” Foster said.