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Weight Watchers aims at competition

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NEW YORK, Aug 23, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- New York's Weight Watchers is rolling out a weight-loss plan that organizes foods by group, like competing plans that focus on low carbohydrates.

The move reflects concern that the Atkins and South Beach diets, which in varying degrees urge cuts in carbohydrates, are stealing market share from Weight Watchers, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Weight Watchers Chief Executive Linda Huett said while she believes interest in low-carb diets is waning, those diets lately have drawn followers who might otherwise have enrolled in the Weight Watchers program.

"I think it would be very surprising if we didn't see some of the people that would have been new to us were going to that instead," Huett said.

Though Weight Watchers will still offer its points program, U.S. and Canadian dieters also will be able to follow the new "Core Plan," choosing to eat almost exclusively from a Weight Watchers list that includes items from all major food groups, without counting points.

Dieters on this plan also have a 35-point weekly "allowance" for treats, from beer to creamy salad dressing, that aren't on the list.

Weight Watchers has been testing the new program on 10,000 members since early January.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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