Science Center

What Is the PersonalPoints System?

Everything you need to know about the science behind WW’s most individualized program yet.
Published May 17, 2018

There’s lots to cover about WW’s groundbreaking new PersonalPoints™ Program, but let’s start here: The program emphasizes overall diet quality, not particular foods—and no food or drink is off-limits. Instead, consistent with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s designed to guide members toward a healthier pattern of eating and promote a healthy rate of weight loss.

As they live the PersonalPoints Program, members are encouraged to choose foods higher in fiber, protein, and unsaturated fats and lower in added sugar and saturated fat. We also know that success goes beyond the scale, so now, members can add Points® for healthy habits—a first in the weight-loss industry!

The Science Behind the PersonalPoints Formula

WW makes healthy eating simple by boiling complex nutritional information down to one easy-to-understand number—a PersonalPoints value—so members can just eat and track.

Here’s a look at how our updated food algorithm calculates a food’s PersonalPoints value:

  • Calories are factored into an item's PersonalPoints value.
  • Added sugar increases the PersonalPoints value.

    • The WW program focuses on added sugar instead of total sugar because the type of sugar makes a difference. Many foods with naturally occurring sugar can be part of a healthy pattern of eating, like fruit and non-fat dairy; however, foods packed with added sugars are typically less nutritious and eating too much of them can have a negative impact on overall diet quality and weight.1 2
    • Independent of weight loss, reducing intake of added sugar reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and dental cavities.3
  • Saturated fat increases the PersonalPoints value, while unsaturated fat lowers the PersonalPoints value.

    • Fats are an essential part of any diet, but not all fats are created equal. A healthy pattern of eating is often higher in unsaturated fats and lower in saturated fats.4 Eating less saturated fat is associated with reduced total cholesterol and LDL, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.4 What’s more: Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.5
  • Protein lowers the PersonalPoints value.

    • Research shows that protein intake supports a weight-loss journey by promoting changes in body composition and preventing the loss of lean body mass.6 It’s also associated with improved weight loss mantainence.7
    • Independent of weight loss, increasing intake of protein helps individuals feel more satisfied (compared to fats and carbohydrates).3
  • Fiber lowers the PersonalPoints value.

    • Fiber-rich foods are nutrient dense, meaning they contain additional vitamins and minerals that are important for good health.4 Research shows that eating more fiber is associated with lower cholesterol, a lowered risk for heart disease, decreased risk for type 2 diabetes, and improved digestive health.8 Fiber consumption is also associated with increased feelings of satisfaction and satiety.9

How WW Members Use PersonalPoints

When a member joins WW, they answer a series of questions designed by our nutrition and behavior change scientists to help us understand which foods they enjoy and reach for often. Then, our revolutionary PersonalPoints Engine custom-builds a ZeroPoint™ foods list (foods members don’t need to weigh, measure, or track) and balances it with a daily and weekly PersonalPoints Budget to guide their food intake. Members can use their PersonalPoints Budget on any food or drink.

The calculation for each member’s Budget is rooted in the most accurate energy-requirement prediction model available—the Mifflin-St Jeor equation—taking into account their metabolic rate, as determined by their age, sex assigned at birth, height, and weight, and adjusted based on whether the member wants to lose or maintain weight. Each member’s Budget is balanced with their ZeroPoint food list. No two plans are the same!

Our personalized plan empowers members to eat what they love and still lose weight. And research shows that individualized approaches lead to greater engagement and greater weight loss than a one-size-fits-all approach.10

ZeroPoint Foods

On WW, there are hundreds of ZeroPoint foods ranging from produce, poultry, and fish to non-fat dairy, whole-wheat pasta, and potatoes—even avocado! Each member receives an individualized ZeroPoint food list based on the foods they love and eat often.

ZeroPoint foods are nutrient-, vitamin-, and mineral-packed, and because of this, they’re recommended by national and international guidelines (including WHO) to be consumed often as part of a healthy pattern of eating.

To encourage members to continue reaching for them often, they don’t have to weigh, measure, or track their ZeroPoint foods. This gives members freedom when building meals and snacks along with the flexibility to have satisfying meals no matter how the day or week went.

Adding PersonalPoints

For the first time ever, members can grow their PersonalPoints Budget by eating non-starchy vegetables, staying hydrated, and moving more. Here’s how: For every cup of non-starchy veggies a member eats and tracks, one Point will be added to their daily Budget. Members can add another Point to their daily Budget by reaching their daily water goal of 60 fluid ounces. Finally, physical activity adds Points to their weekly Budget. Adding PersonalPoints is all about helping members focus on day-to-day behaviors that drive improvements in wellness and build healthy habits—for life.

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Louie JC, Tapsell LC. Association between intake of total vs added sugar on diet quality: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2015;73(12):837-57.

2World Health Organization. Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/149782/9789241549028_eng.pdf;jsessionid=0B5B9F23C20F270824A4C3494BDE60DC?sequence=1

3Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Advisory report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture. First Print, February 2015.

4U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at: https://dietaryguidelines.gov/

5Mozaffarian D, Micha R, Wallace S. Effects on coronary heart disease of increasing polyunsaturated fat in place of saturated fat: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS Med. 2010;7(3):e1000252.

6Kim JE, O’Connor LE, Sands LP, et al. Effects of dietary protein intake on body composition changes after weight loss in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Rev. 2016;74, 210–224.

7van Baak MA, Mariman ECM. Dietary Strategies for Weight Loss Maintenance. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1916.

8Dahl WJ, Stewart ML. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health implications of dietary fiber. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(11):1861–70.

9Wanders, AJ, van den Borne, JJ, de Graaf, C, et al. Effects of dietary fiber on subjective appetite, energy intake and body weight: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Obesity Reviews. 2011;12, 724–739.

10Sherrington A, Newham JJ, Bell R, Adamson A, McColl E, Araujo‐Soares V. Systematic review and meta‐analysis of internet‐delivered interventions providing personalized feedback for weight loss in overweight and obese adults. Obesity Reviews. 2016 Jun;17(6):541-51.