Joel Callen


Fri, 1 May, 2015

Founder of Weight Watchers dies aged 91

Founder of Weight Watchers dies aged 91

Jean Nidetch, the founder of Weight Watchers has died at the age of 91. Ms Nidetch was living in a modest one-bedroom home near Fort Lauderdale in Florida, her son David revealed.

Jean Nidetch weighed 97 kilograms (standing at five-foot-seven) when she began to go to an obesity clinic run by the New York City Board of Health in 1961. There, she picked up some simple weight-loss tips that helped her start to slim down – no skipping meals; more fruits and vegetables; two pieces of bread per day, etc.

Disheartened by the way the clinic was run, and the fact that members didn’t share with each other, Nidetch gathered six overweight friends in her living room to share what they’d learned and discuss food compulsions.

The meetings quickly grew, and by 1963, Nidetch was convinced that she had the makings of a business. Weight Watchers International was founded that year. The company went public in 1968 with franchises and cookbooks sold around the world.

Jean Nidetch Bw

In 1978, Weight Watchers was bought by H.J. Heinz Co. for around US$71 million. In her 2009 autobiography, The June Nidetch Story, she revealed “I’m not a millionaire anymore.” When asked by a reporter, however, in 2011, she replied, “Maybe I am, I don’t know.”

Millionaire or not, Jean Nidetch always said her greatest legacy was helping the millions of people who had lost weight using her plan. She was also very proud to have maintained her own weight loss.

B&W image credit: Weight Watchers

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