Weight loss programmes can provide a helpful structure for your health journey when you feel out of control with unhealthy habits. They can also be a great way to join individuals going on the same journey, which can be incredibly motivating.
Everyone is different, and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a weight loss programme. It ultimately depends on what suits your individual needs and what fits into your lifestyle. Some people want rigid rules and a quick fix, whereas others like more flexibility and a long-term lifestyle change.
This guide compares two of the most popular weight loss programmes; Weight Watchers® (WW) and Slimming World® (SW). Comparisons to the Second Nature programme are included. Second Nature is a 3-month online programme that helps you to lose weight and make sustainable lifestyle changes.
We spoke to two Second Nature members, who have all previously tried Weight Watchers® and Slimming World®, to get an idea of how they compare from the point of view of a user.
Trustpilot is a platform where consumers can leave reviews and scores reflect overall customer satisfcation.
|Score||3.1 / 5
|2.8 / 5
|4.9 / 5
Here’s what someone who has tried all 3 programmes had to say:
|Dietary approach||Low calorie||Low fat||Lower carb|
|Caters to vegetarian||✓||✓||✓|
|Caters to vegan||✓||✓||✓|
|Clear breakdown of costs||✓||✓||✓|
|Clear cancellation policy||✗||✗||✓|
|Length of programme||All plans ongoing.||Meetings: ongoing
Digital: Core plan 3 months + automatic renewal for ongoing subscription.
|Core: 3 months.
Sustain (optional): ongoing.
|Easy to cancel||✓
(If cancelling within 14-day trial, otherwise you have to call customer support)
|Refund policy||Full refund if cancelled within 14 days. After this point, any charges non-refundable.||Partial refund if cancelled within 14 days (dependent on the number of days since purchasing the programme).||Full refund if cancelled within 14 days. After this point, any charges non-refundable.|
|Easy to include family||✗||✗||✓|
|Tailors the plan around diabetes||✗||✓||✓|
|Tailors the plan around other health issues||✗||✓||✓|
(for meeting / meeting+ digital plan)
(for meeting plan)
|Access to registered dietitian or nutritionist||✗||✗
(unless you email customer support with a nutrition query and label it a ‘medical query’)
(2 apps, 1 for planning and 1 online access)
|Recipe videos in app||✗
(Free recipe videos available on YouTube without signing up)
(Free recipe videos available on YouTube without signing up)
|Exercise videos in app||✗
(Free exercise videos available on YouTube without signing up)
|Weighing scales and activity tracker provided||✗||✗||✓
(on tech plan)
|Education of nutrition science||✗||✗||✓|
(Smartpoints® and Fitpoints®)
(Free Foods®, Healthy Extras®, and Syns®)
|Food diary feature||✓||✓||✓|
When programmes provide price plans in different formats, it can be hard to accurately compare prices. To make this easier, we have calculated the price of monthly digital basic price plans on each programme to show you how costs compare over 3, 6, and 12 months (as of June 2019). All admin fees are included in these prices.
Weight Watchers® is marginally cheaper than Slimming World®, and they provide a similar service in terms of support and programme features. On the surface, Second Nature seems slightly more expensive, however, your personal coach is a registered dietitian or nutritionist, rather than a previous member or customer service representative. You also have the same coach throughout the whole Second Nature programme that you can build a relationship with, rather than an ad-hoc response from a different coach each time (Weight Watchers® and Slimming World®).
Registration to a professional body requires a nationally recognised nutrition or dietetics degree. Weekly face-to-face sessions with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can be very expensive (£40-£100/hour). We have added a column representing this to compare costs (Weekly Nutritionist – WN).
|Registered dietitian or nutritionist coach||✗||✗||✓||✓|
|The same, personal coach throughout the programme||✗||✗||✓||✓|
If you were to opt for the Weight Watchers® or Slimming World® face-to-face group meeting plans it would work out to be more expensive.
“I felt unhealthy and older than my years physically. I was worried about developing diabetes and many other health problems, such as female cancers. Every so often I would try some form of weight loss plan, but I was going round in circles.”
“Putting on weight since the menopause.”
“That losing weight would mean a joyless existence of counting and measuring everything I ate. [I did not think] that losing weight could equate to enjoying meals or my food in the same way [but rather] would be a life of endless grumpy hunger!”
“That I would not be able to lose weight as I had a thyroid problem.”
“The app was convenient, but the need to count and measure everything was quite oppressive! Following Weight Watchers® did take up a lot of waking thought (constantly working out what I could get with my allowance !)”
“The weekly meetings were not convenient.”
“Still a fair bit of counting and measuring, but not as much as Weight Watchers®. I still felt that Slimming World® took up a lot of waking thought.”
“These weekly meetings were also not convenient.”
“Wasn’t too bad to fit into daily life. I spend less time measuring and counting things but do seem to spend more time planning and cooking meals. I think it takes a bit longer to get used to the guidelines, but I don’t feel Second Nature is as rigid or takes over my waking thoughts as much as the other clubs did. Knowing I can have a nice and satisfying main meal stops me obsessing about food in between meals.”
“I love that Second Nature is online, which makes it very convenient.”
“Online diary, recipes, and message boards/chat facilities, plus classes (which I didn’t enjoy as I am not a sociable participant in weight loss clubs!). The magazines (which I bought separately) were a good source of info and ideas that I could read privately. I never accessed any online advice”
“Mainly at the weekly meeting. Plus a guide book.”
“Online resources felt less developed than Weight Watchers® (although this was a while ago). Classes and magazines were the main support (again preferred magazines).”
“Also mainly at the weekly meeting. Plus I was given a guide book.”
“The app with recipes plus access to a health coach (through the chat facility). The small groups of starters and the chat facility was also a support.”
“There is health coach support, support from peers, and support through the daily articles, which is all available online.”
“I felt hungry and deprived whilst doing it and did not feel like a way of eating that I would want to sustain long term. I also hated the group meetings.”
“Getting to the meetings and counting points.”
“I also felt hungry and deprived whilst doing it. The online resources were not as extensive as Weight Watchers®. I also hated the group meetings.”
“Working out their system and getting to the meetings was challenging.”
“Initially represented quite a major change in eating and cooking style and felt so wrong to use full-fat products but surprisingly it was quite easy to get used to and does feel like a way of eating that I could happily continue in the long term. The 12-week programme covered quite a lot of ground, which takes time to consolidate and learn.”
“Probably trying to achieve the exercise goals I have been set.”
“That you could opt for an online-only programme and the online resources were good.”
“Probably occasionally going to the meetings with a friend.”
“That you could eat certain foods quite freely.”
“Also going to the meeting with a friend.”
“The basic principles were easy to remember. I liked that Second Nature looked at all aspects of health and was a more forgiving but long-term approach. The focus was not just on weight loss but how you feel and your well-being. The basic principles were easy to remember. That it is run online and you can get as involved as much or as little as you like.”
“I love that I have really learnt so much, which I did not on the other programmes. I feel l now have a real understanding of nutrition science.”
“I would have to say that Second Nature has been the best value for money and the ability to drop out and get a refund within the first few weeks was comforting – a no risk trial!”
“As I did not stay on either Weight Watchers® or Slimming World® for long, I cannot say they were good value. There is slightly more cost with Second Nature, but the amount of support and quality information makes it much better value for money as the outcomes are far superior.”
“Yes I lost a bit but did not keep it off.”
“I lost a little but put it back on very quickly.”
“Yes I lost a bit but did not keep it off.”
“I lost a little bit did not keep it off.”
“I have lost almost a stone and a half in the last 12 weeks. I hope to keep it off as I will not be changing the way I eat. I am confident that I will lose some more!”
“I am still on the program and have lost weight and feel that Second Nature is sustainable. My mindset has changed my motivation has improved, so I am confident that I will not put the weight that I have lost back on.”
It’s a shame the free app isn’t available on Android.
The WW app has recipe’s as well as a link to Headspace for motivation so you need to go back and do some further research. I tried SW once, but it didn’t work as the person taking the class had her own clique of friends and if you weren’t part of that clique you were excluded. I did do WW many years ago and got to goal, but the weight did go back on again (due to clinical depression). I’ve tried the Second Nature for a week now and all I’ve felt – literally – all week is bloated and I haven’t lost so much as an ounce. Needless to say I’m not terribly impressed right now. I will say that the support is amazing and the recipes are very tasty indeed but I’m not a little despondent about it. I’ll give it another week but if, before my two week trial is up, I’m still feeling the same, then I’ll be cancelling. It’s a shame as it’s worked for a family member who recommended me to you.
Hi Liz, thank you for the feedback! The section about recipes addresses whether or not they have recipe videos in the app, which WW do not. Regarding WW being affiliated with Headspace, Second Nature also promotes mindfulness and we recommend Headspace to our members, however this is not covered in this particular guide. I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling a bit despondent about the plan right now. The first thing I would suggest is reaching out to your mentor and letting them know how you feel. They can offer support and tailor the programme (including the dietary recommendations) to suit you and provide some strategies to help with your symptoms. The other thing to bear in mind is that often it can take longer than a week to see any changes reflected on the scales. Try to think of this programme as a healthy lifestyle change journey, rather than a quick fix. I hope you’re feeling better soon manage to keep persevering!
Slimming World allows teenagers do register and they have a separate type of plan. We attend as a family and under 16 are free. There is also promotions of refer a friend.
I followed WW about 17 years ago (I didn’t pay, just took my sister’s books!) and lost 1.5-2 stone easily. I maintained my weight for 10-11 years, but due to a change of job and some personal stuff the weight has crept back on. I’m now on their new plan which I’m finding a bit more strict (chocolate is lot more points than it used to be) but the weight is coming off even if I’m outside of my points on a few days.