Iconic brand about to change name
IT'S been a diet and weight loss leader since 1963 - but within days, Weight Watchers will be gone forever.
That's because the iconic company fronted by Oprah Winfrey herself is undergoing a dramatic makeover of its own.
With the company now firmly focused on "overall health and wellness" as opposed to simply shedding kilos, it will soon be known simply as "WW", along with the new tagline, "wellness that works".
President and chief executive officer Mindy Grossman told news.com.au the name change was a natural result of the brand's focus on helping clients live healthier lives - whether that be via losing weight, eating healthier, getting active or developing a more positive mindset.
"We are the biggest believers in body positivity … the first thing we ask people is not, 'Do you want to lose weight?', but 'What does healthy mean to you? What are your health goals?' Mine might be different to yours, and once we ask that we also ask what things we need to do to get there," she said.
"If one thing is to lose weight, we are going to help them do that, but we don't dictate a weight and we don't tell you what you have to do."
She said health no longer represented just a "number on a scale" and that WW was committed to supporting individual needs and goals.
"No body is created equal - that's really important to us," she said.
As part of the new "brand identity", the WW app will be updated on October 4, along with other big changes which will be progressively rolled out from that date onwards.
This will include a partnership with meditation and mindfulness organisation Headspace, the introduction of the WellnessWins program that rewards members for everyday, healthy behaviours and the evolution of the current FitPoints system to encourage activities that lead to better health and wellness outcomes.
It will also help users find other members with similar interests, such as vegan or gluten-free food or those at similar life stages, and from January 2019 every product sold by WW will be free from artificial sweeteners, flavours, colours and preservatives.
Ms Grossman said the company's overhaul was not a passing fad.
"We don't see it as a trend …'wellness' is in the Zeitgeist everywhere … and it's as simple as it sounds - we inspire healthy habits for life, and provide tools that people need," she said.
Weight Watchers' latest announcement follows the shock removal of its iconic "before and after" weight loss photos which was revealed back in February.
Under the brand revamp, it was also announced earlier this year that free memberships would be offered to teenagers in a bid to tackle childhood obesity - a move which raised eyebrows, with several experts warning of a link between dieting and eating disorders in young people.
It also unveiled plans to grow revenue to more than $2 billion and attract 10 million worldwide members to the ranks by the end of 2020.
In a statement, Weight Watchers ambassador and major shareholder Oprah Winfrey said she supported the company's plan to ditch its famous name.
"As Weight Watchers becomes WW, I believe we will continue to inspire people not only to eat well, but to move more, connect with others and continue to experience the joys of a healthy life," she said.
Weight Watchers International was founded in Queens, New York in 1963 by homemaker Jean Nidetch.
It offers a range of products, services and programs aimed at helping members lose weight.
It operates in 30 countries around the world, and uses a science-backed method to help members lose weight by forming healthy eating habits, encouraging exercise and providing emotional support and encouragement.
Oprah Winfrey is an ambassador of the company and its largest shareholder, owning a 10 per cent stake.