Podcast Episode 135: Weight Management: Customization Supports Behavior Change – Dr. Gary Foster

Dec 11, 2019

DISCLOSURE: This episode is a partnership with WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and we thank them for their sponsorship and support.

Customized Approaches in Weight Management Support Behavior Change

Freedom and flexibility are subjective. What works for one person may not work for another – there needs to be customized approaches to weight management.

It is scientifically proven that customized approaches in weight management lead to greater engagement and more behavior change than generic approaches.1

myWW ProgramWW, formerly Weight Watchers, understands that everyone’s needs are different, so they launched a NEW program called myWW which includes an evidence-based personalized assessment asking a range of questions about your unique food preferences, activity levels, lifestyle, and approach to weight loss. Based on your responses and the latest nutritional and behavior change science, they’ll guide you to one of three scientifically proven food plans that best align with your needs, leading to clinically significant weight loss and reductions in hunger and cravings.2

The new myWW program is comprised of three options, all of which are rooted in WW’s award-winning and scientifically proven approach to weight loss and nutrition, grounded in the SmartPoints® system and ZeroPoint™ foods.3 The SmartPoints system promotes a healthy pattern of eating — aligning with dietary principles from the World Health Organization — which guides our members toward choosing more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and less sugar and saturated fat. Along with SmartPoints, each plan has a balance of ZeroPoint foods as well. ZeroPoint foods are not “free” from calories, but they do form the foundation of an overall healthy eating pattern and that’s why all of them don’t have to be weighed, measured, or tracked. Members are encouraged to eat a balance of both ZeroPoint foods and food that have SmartPoints values – meaning no foods are off limits.

  • Green guides people towards 100+ ZeroPoint foods, with the largest SmartPoints Budget to spend on other foods they love.
  • Blue is based on 200+ ZeroPoint foods to build meals around, with a smaller SmartPoints Budget.
  • Purple is comprised of 300+ ZeroPoint foods and a more modest SmartPoints Budget.

Each plan provides customized recipes and content, activity recommendations, and mindset skills that are science-based, actionable, and practical. WW helps match the plan to the person, rather than the person trying to fit their behaviors and lifestyle into one of the plans. Each plan includes all of the WW tools and community support needed to help people succeed, including access to a WW coach via the app.

myWW program app

In a six-month clinical trial of the myWW program, conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Weight Management Center, results indicate that the participants experienced clinically significant benefits on and off the scale, including on average:

  • 7% weight loss
  • 2% decrease in systolic blood pressure
  • 24% decrease in hunger
  • 7% reduction in overall cravings; including significant reductions in cravings of high fat foods, sweets, and fast food fats

When asked about the myWW program:

  • 97% of participants agreed myWW helps you learn healthy habits for the long term
  • 94% of participants agreed myWW teaches skills to keep weight off
  • 90% of participants agree myWW feels more like a lifestyle, less like a diet
  • 96% of participants agreed myWW is flexible, as no foods are off limits
  • 90% of participants agreed myWW is easier to stick with compared to when they have tried to lose weight on their own
  • 88% of participants agreed that myWW is an easier way to lose weight than when they have tried to lose weight on their own

NOTE: At the time of the recorded interview only 3-month data was available. However, at the time of release the 6-month data was available and is reflected above. 

When it comes to weight management, everyone’s needs are different.”

Dr. Gary Foster

Dr. Gary FosterGary Foster, PhD, is the Chief Scientific Officer at WW, formerly Weight Watchers. Dr. Gary Foster is a psychologist, obesity investigator and behavior change expert who has authored more than 175 scientific publications and three books. In his role as CSO at WW, Dr. Foster oversees the science-based program, all clinical research initiatives, and continued program advances. Dr. Foster was previously the Director of the Center of Obesity Research and Education at Temple University and served as a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine.



  1. Brownell, K. D., & Wadden, T. A. (1991). The heterogeneity of obesity: Fitting treatments to individuals. Behavior Therapy, 22(2), 153-177.)
  2. Six-month pre-post study on 143 participants, conducted by Patrick O’Neil, PhD, and colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Weight Management Center. Study funded by WW.
  3. Davis DM, Hayes JA. What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy 2011;48(2):198-208.

About myWW | WW Website | Recipes | Science Center | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn

Related Episodes:

From Stigma to Self-Compassion: Mindset Matters – Sound Bites Podcast episode #121 with Dr. Gary Foster


Get Melissa’s Sound Science Toolkit here!

Partnership with AADE

American Association of Diabetes Educators

Sound Bites is partnering with the American Association of Diabetes Educators! Stay tuned for updates on the podcast, blog and newsletter!

  • Take a stand in diabetes care and get involved in state and national advocacy efforts with AADE’s upgraded Legislative Action Center. Discover what bills impact your area, take action on key issues and find contact information for your elected officials. For more on AADE’s advocacy efforts, visit DiabetesEducator.org/Advocacy.
  • Share your research with thousands of other diabetes care and education specialists! There’s still time to submit an abstract for a research session or education and research poster at the 2020 AADE Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA from Friday, August 14 – Monday, August 17. Learn more at AADEmeeting.org.

Music by Dave Birk

Enjoy The Show?

Subscribe with iTunesSubscribe with Stitcher



Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Welcome to my podcast where we delve into the science, psychology and strategies behind good food and nutrition.

Listen to the trailer

How To Subscribe Or Review My Podcast

Click for the instructions:


Sign up for my newsletter and get my free Sound Science Toolkit as a bonus! Already subscribed? Get the toolkit here.

Contact Melissa

podcast selfie

Backstage Pass

Contact Melissa with ideas or suggestions, to be interviewed or for media coaching