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Dr. Oz Weight Loss Guest Expert Joel Fuhrman About Weight Watchers

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Dr. Oz Weight Loss Guest Expert Joel Fuhrman on Weight Watchers

A recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show featured weight loss guest expert Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Dr. Fuhrman has appeared repeatedly on The Dr. Oz Show with the message of how his weight loss program produces superior and healthier results in comparison to commercial weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers.

Like Dr. Fuhrman, representatives of Watch Watchers are also repeatedly featured on the Dr. Oz Show with info and tips on how to lose weight through their program by buying and/or creating food choices/substitutions graded on a point system that allows a dieter to eat without desire deprivation. In other words, abstinence of chocolates and other desserts is not necessary as long as a dieter chooses low-cal versions and sticks to the point system’s daily calorie count.

Last year, U.S. News and World Report announced that Weight Watchers ranks No. 1 among all other commercial diet programs for both short-term and long-term weight loss. It’s growing popularity and increasing membership attests to the fact that dieters believe in what Weight Watchers has to offer. However, some clever celebrity marketing featuring Jennifer Hudson, Charles Barkley and Jessica Simpson may contribute to its rise in popularity as well. In addition, weight Watchers features online advertisements on The Dr. Oz Show website, which adds significantly to its presence.

The primary problem Dr. Fuhrman sees with commercial weight loss programs such as Weight Watchers where calorie counting is the primary strategy toward losing weight is that these programs continue to foster eating a toxic diet that does nothing to eliminate the craving to eat more than people should. In fact,on a previous episode of The Dr. Oz Show and on his website he points out that these diets actually cause people to eat more of the wrong types of foods.

On The Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Fuhrman discusses his idea of what a food pyramid should look like—and not just for dieters, but non-dieters as well when making food decisions that can not only result in weight loss, but could remove people’s dependency on prescription medications. A healthier body achieved with weight loss is his message about his healthy eating weight loss program.

In his pyramid, the base consists of a diet that is primarily micronutrient-dense vegetables. The next layer up consists of fruits, beans/legumes with the third layer made up of whole grains, nuts and seeds. As the pyramid grows progressively higher, the food percentage progressively decreases with fish and fat-free dairy followed by a smaller amount of poultry, eggs and oils. Beef, sweets, cheese and milk products occupy only a small portion at the very top of the pyramid.

Dr. Fuhrman’s food pyramid is a guide for people to encourage and remind them that a healthy diet has to be one that involves eating relatively large amounts of vegetables, beans and fruits that are nutrient-packed as opposed to being focused on foods based on their calorie count.

On his website, Dr. Fuhrman talks about commercial diets like Weight Watchers that are based on “fake” low-nutrient processed foods that appeal to mainstream dieters who want to lose weight but without feeling they have to give up the foods they like. While eating such processed diet foods/meals that are low-calorie will lead to weight loss, the dieter needs to understand that those calories are nutritionally poor—and that is why many diets fail.

Nutrient packed foods he believes are the answer to not only providing your nutrient-starved body with what it needs the most, but in turn will also help dieters lose their “toxic hunger” and cravings that are the reason why so many other commercial diets fail that are based on low-calorie meals.

Dr. Fuhrman describes toxic hunger as the symptoms of abdominal spasms, stomach discomfort, headaches, and weakness that drives people to eat for relief because their body is suffering from nutritional deprivation due to a nutritionally inadequate diet. He believes that once the body is having its nutritional needs met, that the toxic hunger will dissipate as your body realizes “true hunger” that subsequently leads to eating only as much healthy food as you will want—without any deprivation.

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Calorie counting programs, however, typically have a poor track record because although they allow a dieter to maintain his or her food desires, the portions are so small that the dieter feels deprived and subsequently can maintain a deprivation diet for only so long. Dr. Fuhrman describes it as being like trying to breathe less air for a few minutes where eventually your body has to give in and begins to gasp for increased air intake.

So, what about the U.S. News and World Report rating and the celebrity testimonies? Are they a lot of hooey?

Not necessarily so. The comparisons are made between commercial dieting programs, not with life style change dieting like Dr. Fuhrman’s Live to Eat weight loss program or other comparable programs based on healthier eating. In fact, Dr. Fuhrman references a scientific study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) performed on subjects undergoing the Weight Watchers program as an example of scientific data showing how Weight Watchers fails dieters by revealing that the study participants lost an average of less than 5 pounds in six months.

As it turns out, his reference statement is incorrect. Rather than 5 pounds, the actual data was between 5 to 6 kilograms (approximately 11-13 pounds) of average weight lost, with some dieters losing even more during the first six months. Furthermore, the conclusion of the study was that a dieters’ overall success on a commercial program like Weight Watchers in comparison to being on a self-help weight loss program is that being on a structured commercial program results in more weight-loss success.

What the study does say indirectly in support of Dr. Fuhrman’s views on weight loss and dieting, however, is that even though some dieters lost weight, other biological health factors were not significantly improved in correlation with the weight lost. In other words, they lost weight, but physiologically were not necessarily healthier than when they began the study.

In comparison to Dr. Fuhrman’s program of weight loss through healthier eating, he states that his patients lose an average of 15 pounds the first month, and then about 8 to10 pounds a month thereafter—and, with a gain of health advantages such as radically dropping cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar as you lose the weight.

While the Dr. Oz Show maintains balanced views by televising a variety of diet types and programs for viewers to learn about toward making informed decisions about weight loss, his recently televised episode featuring Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Live to Eat weight loss program is one that follows what dieticians have been saying for years—eat a lot of veggies for a healthier and slimmer life.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia


The Dr. Oz Show: Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Food Pyramid

Weight Loss With Self-help Compared With a Structured Commercial Program: A Randomized Trial JAMA 2003; 289(14):1792-1798; Stanley Heshka, PhD et al.

Dr. Fuhrman webpage: The Problem with Weight Watchers and other Calorie Counting Diets



Weight Watchers produces and sell processed foods, some of which are low-cal candies, desserts, etc. But that is not the basis of the plan. It is to teach you how to cook for yourself in a healthy way. In fact, their recipes are printed into the fliers members get each week at meetings, not just in cookbooks they sell. When you join and get access to the company's website, a ton of material there is about how to prepare your favorite foods in a way that keeps you on the plan. There is no need to buy low-cal candy and stay on Weight Watchers. Small amounts of your favorites can be consumed if points totals are calculated and they don't put you over your weekly allowance. It truly is a way not to feel deprived, except in portion size.. So Dr. Fuhrman's emphasis on the lack of healthy people after weight loss even from Weight Watchers might be statistically correct, because many people take the fast way and don't like to cook ---but it excludes the intent of the program and the meetings. It also defies what I know to be true from 17 months of attending meetings, achieving my goal and lifetime status and speaking with members at the meetings. We swap recipes and ideas. We also share our love of the frozen desserts, but as a complement to our daily food intake, not to dominate it. To be successful at staying at a weight goal you can't eat frozen meals three times a day. You just can't.