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WEIGHT WATCHERS INTERNATIONAL AND COMMISSIONER MARK GREEN ANNOUNCE NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION INITIATIVE

WEIGHT WATCHERS INTERNATIONAL AND COMMISSIONER MARK GREEN ANNOUNCE
 NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION INITIATIVE
 NEW YORK, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- In a voluntary move to better inform and protect consumers, Weight Watchers International is adopting the New York City "Truth-in-Dieting" regulation in over 1,200 meeting locations nationwide. This rule calls for the prominent posting of the "Weight Loss Consumer Bill of Rights" and full disclosure of all program costs, contract requirements and the possible health risks linked to rapid weight loss, in advance of registering for a weight loss program. The action was announced this morning at a joint press briefing held by Weight Watchers and New York City Consumer Affairs Commissioner Mark Green, who adopted the regulation in May.
 In announcing the move, Weight Watchers International Chairman Charles M. Berger commented, "Weight Watchers has for over 29 years advocated safe, sensible weight control. We have always been committed to responsible marketing and delivery of our service, including full disclosure of all program costs and requirements at the point-of-sale." He noted that the "Weight Loss Consumer Bill of Rights" is consistent with Weight Watchers values, adding,. "As an industry leader, we're proud to promote these principles as part of our on-going commitment to helping consumers make an informed choice."
 Commissioner Green said, "I applaud Weight Watchers for voluntarily adopting our Consumer Bill of Rights in its locations nationally. Their initiative is a major breakthrough for this industry. If Weight Watchers understands that informing clients is pro-consumer and pro- business, why can't the rest of the industry?"
 The New York City "Truth in Dieting" regulation resulted form a 1991 undercover investigation by the City's Department of Consumer Affairs. The investigation revealed that several New York City weight-loss centers failed to inform potential customers of the health risks associated with rapid weight loss; others were cited for "quackery" and for pressuring thin people to sign up for costly programs. The investigative report named Weight Watchers as representative of weight- loss program that promotes balance eating, lifestyle changes, and modest fees, and that has succeeded for many consumers. Commissioner Green subsequently praised Weight Watchers for not encouraging rapid weight loss.
 The "Weight Loss Consumer Bill of Rights" informs consumers of the potential risks linked to rapid weight loss and states that only lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating habits and increasing physical activity, will promote long-term weight loss. It guarantees that all costs, including those for products or laboratory tests, will be disclosed, and potential customers will be told the duration of their recommended program. The "Weight-Loss Consumer Bill of Rights" will be posted in over 1,200 Weight Watchers locations within the next three weeks (see below).
 The move by Weight Watchers International, the world's largest weight-loss organization, is particularly significant when the size of the market for weight-loss products and services is considered. According to health experts, 34 million Americans weigh over 20 percent more than their ideal body weight. Government agencies predict approximately 50 million American will follow some weight-loss program.
 WEIGHT LOSS CONSUMER BILL OF RIGHTS
 1. Warning: Rapid loss may cause serious health problems. (Rapid weight loss is weight loss of more than 1-1/2 pounds to 2 pounds per week or weight loss of more than 1 percent of body weight per week after the second week of participation in a weight-loss program.)
 2. Only permanent lifestyle change -- such as making healthful food choices and increasing physical -- activity can promote long-term weight loss.
 3. Consult your personal physician before starting any weight-loss program.
 4. Qualifications of this provider's staff are available on request.
 5. You have a right to:
 -- Ask questions about the potential health risks of this program, its nutritional content, and its psychological and educational aspects.
 -- Know the price of treatment, including the price of any extra products, services, supplements, and laboratory tests.
 -- Know the program duration that is being recommended for you.
 -0- 9/1/92
 /CONTACT: Linda Webb of Weight Watchers, 516-949-0488, or Jill Cohen of Edelman Worldwide, 212-704-8175, Weight Watchers/ CO: Weight Watchers International; New York City Department
 of Consumer Affairs ST: New York IN: SU:


SH-TS -- NY008 -- 5341 09/01/92 10:31 EDT
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Date:Sep 1, 1992
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