23 Feb 2012

Fighting Obesity One Pound at a Time

Author: Rebekah Dyvig | Filed under: Localizing story, Science, Health, Environment, Spring 2012, Student Contributor

The Weight Watchers meeting location in Perrysburg is open for drop-in hours throughout the week.

By Rebekah Dyvig

Americans are turning to diet pills and surgery to help them lose weight, but there are other ways to lose weight without taking extreme measures.

Over the past 50 years, Weight Watchers has coached an estimated one million people to help meet their weight loss goals. Now Weight Watchers is helping people in the Bowling Green area.

“I feel Weight Watchers is probably one of the better weight loss programs out there because of the support system it provides,” said Jane Crandall, a registered dietician at the Bowling Green State University Student Health Center.

Over the past 20 years, obesity has increased dramatically in America. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 33.8 percent of adults in America are obese. The state of Ohio has an obesity rate of 29.2 percent, and 29.4 percent of Wood County residents are obese.

With the obesity rate continuing to climb in America, many people are deciding to lose weight by joining Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers has weekly meetings to give members advice and coach them through their weight loss journey. The meetings are a tool to keep members motivated and prevent them from going back to their old lifestyle.

“Weight Watchers is a weekly dedication, but it provides members with support from other people who they can share ideas and tips with,” Crandall said.

There are currently two Weight Watchers meetings for the city of Bowling Green, and 10 in neighboring Perrysburg, where many Bowling Green residents go if the meetings in Bowling Green don’t work with their schedules.

Two years ago the Wellness Connection at BGSU made Weight Watchers part of its WellAware program, with a Weight Watchers meeting on campus once a week. The Wellness Connection focuses on offering BGSU students and the community opportunities to achieve optimal health and wellness. The WellAware program is the health and wellness programs offered by BGSU, through a grant from Medical Mutual.

“Weight Watchers gives people another option to help achieve their health and wellness goals,” said Faith Yingling, director of the Wellness Connection.

The BGSU Weight Watchers program has averaged 20 participants per semester, according to Yingling.

Kathy Holden, 67, joined Weight Watchers one month ago for health reasons and has lost about four pounds so far. Holden said she hopes to lose 40 pounds through Weight Watchers.

“I definitely love Weight Watchers,” Holden said. “I can’t get this type of help anywhere else.”

Besides holding weekly meetings Weight Watchers also has eTools, online tools for members. The program provides members with recipes, a weight tracker and a recipe builder. The recipe builder helps members find the nutritional value of recipes by entering the ingredients.

Jennifer Smith, who works at Weight Watchers in Perrysburg, joined Weight Watchers in 2008 and met her weight loss goal by losing 43 pounds.

“The best part about Weight Watchers is you can eat normal foods and still lose weight,” Smith said.

The key to losing weight with Weight Watchers is keeping track of what they eat. Weight Watchers uses a point system based on the total fat, protein, fiber and carbohydrates in a serving of food. New members are given a book that contains the point value of generic foods. They can also purchase a calculator or use a Weight Watchers app to easily find the point value of any food item.

“You have to eat to lose weight,” Crandall said. “With Weight Watchers, members get to eat regular foods, foods that are enjoyable. People need to erase the mindset of good and bad food. All foods are meant to enjoy in moderation.”

All fruits and most vegetables count as zero points with Weight Watchers, so members can eat as much as they want without going over their point limit.

“It instills healthier food choices, and gives you an opportunity to eat more fruits and vegetables,” Crandall said.

Many grocery stores carry Weight Watcher foods, and other companies are partnering with Weight Watchers to make it easy for members to find food that is healthy and low in points.

Applebee’s partnered with Weight Watchers and list the point value of select meals on their menu. This makes it easier for people who are following the Weight Watchers plan to go out to eat and know how many points to track for what they ate.

Making small lifestyle changes as opposed to temporary diets, help people lose weight and keep it off, Crandall said.

“Any effort made for an individual to reach and stay at a healthy weight is worth every effort, long term,” Crandall said. “There are so many health problems related to obesity.”


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