Why is Weight Watchers Covered by Health Insurance?

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I recently found out that health insurance covers Weight Watchers.

What the…? ‘Health’ insurance covers a diet?!

weight watcher diet reimbursed by health insuranceDiets have very little to do with health and so it’s the message that this sends that bothers me because it says that this diet is ‘reasonable and necessary’ per health insurance standards. But dieting behavior is one of the primary contributors to emotional eating and eating disorders which is why I find this disturbing. Not to mention, the failure rate of diets is staggering and Weight Watchers is no exception.

Early on in my career as a fitness professional I would often have the following conversation with newer clients:

Client:  “I went on Weight Watcher’s again.”

Me: “Again? Okay – why did you decide to do that?”

Client: “It enables me to control what I eat so that I can lose weight. It works.”

Me: “How many times have you been on and off Weight Watchers?”

Client: “Oh I don’t know, I’ve lost count over the years, but it helps me to get back on track.”

I would hear this often from clients; that they were once again going on Weight Watchers and it was rarely the first time they were trying it, but the umpteenth time.

Why Making Diets Reimbursable By Insurers Makes No Sense

Weight Watchers has a high failure rate because well – it’s a diet. It involves a point and calorie system and you get so many ‘points’ in a day – and as long as you don’t go over those points, you’re good. But the allotted points per day can often equate to a calorie intake well below the average person’s energy needs.

If we aren’t getting enough fuel for our energy needs, then our body goes into a state of physical deprivation and our bodies turn to muscle for energy, not fat, so weight loss may occur but due to muscle and water loss.

Read This Related Article:
Weight Loss: Weight Watchers Vs. Fitness Centers

As a result, our energy gets depleted, the immune system takes a hit and irritability increases – because well…we’re HUNGRY! Or ‘hangry’ as one Green Mountain participant likes to call it (hungry +angry).

Diet Deprivation Can Lead To Overeating

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[end-div]On a psychological level a sense of deprivation kicks in around what we can’t have and this turns the forbidden food into the ‘forbidden fruit’. What happens next is overeating or binge eating on the very food that we are trying to avoid. After a period of time, a diet is once again taken on to ‘control’ the overeating or perceived ‘addiction’ to certain foods – and so the cycle continues.

In the end, diets don’t help people, they hurt people, but diets draw people in because they provide an illusion of control over what feels uncontrollable, which is one’s relationship with food.

The False Promise Of Diets

Diets provide a false fix NOW to the following common thought:

“Tell me what to eat – PLEASE. Don’t make me responsible for my own choices, because I don’t TRUST my choices.”

Read This Related Article:
How I Finally Gave Up Dieting

This desperation is what leads people to the next magical diet that will finally help them to lose weight.

Notice I didn’t say ‘be healthy’ – because it’s rare that health is as much of a motivator to go on a diet compared to weight loss. And the diet industry perpetuates and capitalizes on that sense of urgency around weight loss which is why there never seems to be an end to new diets.

Dieting Is Big Business

Dieting is big business – it’s a cash cow and now an annual $65 billion industry that only keeps getting stronger which is why health insurance coverage of Weight Watchers had me uttering an expletive. This is a giant step in the wrong direction.


4 responses to “Why is Weight Watchers Covered by Health Insurance?”

  1. Nancy mcCullough says:

    Love reading these blogs. I read the book It was me all along. Reinforced what I learned at Green Mountain. Eat healthy. Move more. Diets dont work.

  2. erinfitwoman says:

    Hi Nancy – I hadn’t heard of that book so will definitely check it out. And yes indeed – diets are the detour not the cure for healing one’s relationship with food…

  3. AmberLynn Pappas says:

    I wish more insurance companies would cover work with personal trainers. Then, maybe people wouldn’t be so afraid to get some good fitness advice and give it a good try.

  4. Erin says:

    Hi Amber Lynn,
    Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if insurance covered more preventative care? I agree…

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About the Author

Erin Risius, MA, LPC

Erin Risius, MA, LPC, is a former program director of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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