The Four-Decade-Old Diet

Early Show National Correspondent Hattie Kauffman finds out, there is one plan that's going strong -- 40 years since it was introduced. Weight Watchers meeting
CBS/The Early Show
Diets come and go and often faster than one can lose 10 pounds.

The grapefruit diet, the Beverly Hills diet, diet pills and diet frozen food have all been tried before. But, as Early Show National Correspondent Hattie Kauffman finds out, there is one plan that's going strong — 40 years since it was introduced.

Most have seen the commercials that proclaimed the success of the diet. Even Sarah Ferguson, the former Duchess of York, proclaimed the diet's miraclous results.

Weight Watchers has been used for four decades and is more popular than ever. The Weight Watchers staple has always been the weekly group meeting. It is known for its private weigh-ins, public approvals and personal testimonials reminiscent of 12-step recovery programs.

The meetings attract a million members worldwide — up 400,000 in the last three years. Newcomers are younger and hipper than most would expect.

"You've got to be thin out here, especially with acting," said Ginna Eggers. "It's just the way it is."

Author Clint Catalyst is another Weight Watchers convert. Working at home on the computer, he found himself putting on the pounds. Much to his friends' surprise, he's down 33 pounds on Weight Watchers.

"They're like, 'You go there?'" said Catalyst. "They're just saying that it's all like housewives which it is too. I mean, but it's like it's realistic. It's a wide range of people."

The system is based on points. Each food is assigned a certain number of points depending on fat, fiber and calories. Each dieter is allowed to eat so many points a day.

Dieters on the program claim the points make a point of showing how much they consume. And they say it makes life easier when dieting.

Even in Hollywood the point system can be found. Many of the actors are also waiters and even at trendy bistros they find they're helping customers count points.

Some would laugh at the notion of Weight Watchers as being hip, but to some it just makes life easier.