Weight Loss Glossary - Weight Loss Advice | WW UK

Welcome to your weight-loss dictionary.

Weight Loss Glossary - Weight Loss Advice


Need to decode the jargon? Don’t know your BMI from your STS? No worries – our handy glossary spells it all out.Take word worries out of weight loss.

Get in the know about the terms we’re using right here. We’ve set everything out in simple terms so you’ll know exactly what we’re on about.

Abdominal fat is body fat around your middle – think the area between your ribs and hips. It includes fat under the skin and around your internal organs, too. Waist measurements are used to measure abdominal fat.

Aerobic exercise includes exercises like walking, cycling, swimming and running – any activity that gets your heart rate up and your blood pumping.

Bariatric surgery is a surgery designed to help obese people lose weight, and can refer to a few different procedures on the stomach and intestines.

Binge eating refers to eating a lot over a particular amount of time. During a binge, binge eaters feel they don’t have control over how (or how much) they’re eating.

Body composition is the makeup of your body, including the proportions of muscle and organs (otherwise known as lean body mass), bone, water and fat.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a scale that uses your weight and height to calculate a healthy weight range. For most people, a BMI of between 20 and 25 is considered healthy. 

Calories are also known as kilocalories, and are often used to measure both the energy available in the foods you eat and the energy your body uses. A kilocalorie is the amount of energy needed to heat 1kg of water by 1 degree Celsius.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that involves identifying your harmful thoughts or patterns, and learning how to deal with them in a healthy way.

Diabetes is a disease in which the body can’t produce enough insulin, or fails to respond to insulin in your system. There are two main types: type 1 (sometimes called insulin-dependent or juvenile-onset), which is usually present from birth; and type 2 (sometimes called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset) which is usually triggered by genetic or lifestyle factors, such as being overweight. You can find out more about how Weight Watchers can lower the risk, or manage the symptoms, of Type 2 diabetes here.

Dietary restraint is the extent to which your eating is controlled, usually to help you lose weight.

Dumping Syndrome is a condition where food moves too quickly between your stomach and small intestine (which is the next part of the digestive system). It’s often an after-effect of gastric bypass surgery, and can sometimes cause stomach pain, weakness, sweating, nausea and diarrhoea.

Gold member is a term for a Weight Watchers member who has reached their agreed goal weight. Gold members can attend Weight Watchers meetings free for life, as long as they stay within 5lb of their goal weight.

Heart rate is the number of times per minute your heart beats. It’s important to keep your heart rate in mind while you’re exercising, because it affects your metabolism. The faster your heart beats, the more calories will be burnt.

Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of sugar in the blood.

Meetings Leader / Group Leader is the person who runs a Weight Watchers meeting. All of our Leaders have been members themselves, and have reached their goal weight. Having personal experience with the plan means they know exactly what it’s like to go through a weight-loss journey. Plus, they’re all trained to ensure they’re in the best position to help you. You can find your nearest meeting.

Metabolism is the total number of calories per day that your body burns.

Motivational interviewing is a new approach to counselling, which helps focus on your problems and develops your motivation so you can change them.

Muscle mass is the amount of muscle in your body. You might hear terms such as ‘fat-free mass’ or ‘lean tissue’ instead, but they all mean the same thing.

Non-caloric sweeteners are chemically processed sweeteners that give you a sweet taste, but have no calories. They’re usually used in place of sugar or other calorific sweeteners.

Organic is a term for food that has never been exposed to conventional pesticides, weed killers, hormones, fertilisers or antibiotics. Organic food can be either animal or plant based, but however it’s grown, it has to be free from chemical interference.

Placebo is a substance that has no medical effect on its own, but can be used to test the effectiveness of medical treatments. It works by giving some research patients medicine, and others a placebo (such as a sugar pill), without letting them know which is which.

Plateau is a common experience during your weight-loss journey. It’s a period of several weeks (or sometimes longer) where your weight doesn’t change. If you want to break out of a plateau, read these tips on keeping motivated.

Portion control works by restricting the amount of food you eat. The goal is to limit the amount of calories taken into your body.

Prebiotics are ingredients that can’t be digested, but are believed to stimulate the growth of ‘good bacteria’, or probiotics, in the intestines.

SmartPoints® values are like Weight Watchers ‘currency’ – they allow you to have total flexibility when following the plan, and you’ll get a personal SmartPoints budget to support healthy weight loss.

Probiotics are sometimes called ‘good bacteria’. They live in the intestine and can improve your digestive system if eaten in high quantities.

Resistance exercise includes activities that strengthen your bones and muscles.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects people most often in wintertime, when there is less sunlight and your body is unable to produce as much vitamin D. It normally fades in springtime.

Simple Start is the simple way to begin losing weight. It’s the Weight Watchers introduction to the SmartPoints plan, and will reacquaint you with healthy food that will help you to feel satisfied. To begin with, you just focus on eating from a list of foods at the heart of the plan, without the distraction of counting or measuring what you eat. 

Social support is the help and encouragement of other people, like those at your Weight Watchers meeting. It can have measurable positive effects on your weight loss long-term.

Stay the Same (STS) is when you’re not experiencing a weight change at weigh-in from one week to the next. It can be disappointing, but these motivation tips can give you a boost.

Visceral fat is the fat that is around your internal organs, like your kidneys and liver. It’s different from subcutaneous fat, which is under your skin.

Waist circumference is a measurement that can estimate abdominal fat. A waist measurement above 35in in women or 40in in men could mean higher risk of obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.