Combining healthy eating with moral support, Jean Nidetch became a heavyweight in the weight-loss industry. The founder of Weight Watchers died Wednesday at her home in Florida.
She was 91.
What would become Weight Watchers started as a group of friends meeting in her Queens, New York, living room in 1961.
Nidetch described herself as an “overweight housewife obsessed with cookies.”
After countless fad diets, Nidetch figured that accountability was the key to keeping the weight off. At the time, she was 38 years old and weighed more than 200 pounds.
Her guiding philosophy: “It’s choice — not chance — that determines your destiny.”
Through the program of regular weigh-ins, peer support and accountability, not only did Nidetch lose 72 pounds, but she inspired millions more to shed pounds too.
She officially launched Weight Watchers in 1963 and took the company public five years later.
“Jean was an inspiration and an innovator who leaves behind a legacy and program that has positively impacted the health and well-being of millions of people around the world,” said Jim Chambers, president and CEO Weight Watchers International. “It is our honor and responsibility to carry on her legacy to help more people to transform their lives.”