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Arment Dietrich

Stop Weight Watchers. Start Living

By: Arment Dietrich | February 13, 2008 | 
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Blog written by Brigitte Lyons

Weight Watchers has a new slogan that spins the language of the anti-diet movement and the fatosphere: Stop Dieting. Start Living. Not only is this language intentionally misleading, it’s also dangerous.

I’m sure I’ve lost some of you, but let me explain.

Stop Dieting. Start Living is misleading. The conventional definition of dieting is: The deliberate selection of food to control body weight or nutrient intake. According to Weight Watchers, the program isn’t a diet, because it promotes exercise and healthy habits, along with flexible food plans. “These food plans…emphasize the importance of staying satisfied with nutritious food choices, like whole-grains, low-fat protein, and fruits and vegetables.”

Nice try, Weight Watchers, but a flexible diet is still a diet. Members count points, a pseudonym for calories in my book, and weigh in at meetings to track their progress. Lots of South Beach followers think their diets are flexible, too — after the first two carb-cutting weeks.

Okay, so by now I hope you agree that Weight Watchers is a diet.

And in this case, there’s more to the name than pretty packaging.

Societal pressure to be thin is enormous in this country. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five women struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating, and 11 percent of high school students have been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Here’s a simple quiz that shows how some incredibly common attitudes about food are disordered.

For someone with an eating disorder, or even just self-critical about their appearance, Weight Watchers and other diets can be incredibly dangerous. In fact, dieting is bad for you, regardless of your size.

But really, this article isn’t about my personal views on dieting. If you’re on a diet or swearing off them forever, we can all agree that distorting the facts to make a catchy slogan hurts people.

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