Jean Nidetch, Founder of Weight Watchers, Dies at 91

Jean Nidetch, the 91-year-old co-founder of Weight Watchers died early Wednesday morning in her Fort Lauderdale, Florida home.

Born Jean Evelyn Slutsky in Brooklyn in 1923, Nidetch, was the daughter of a cabdriver and a manicurist. After she married, the unhappy and overweight Nidetch tried fad diet after fad diet to no avail, but when she ran into a neighbor in a supermarket that asked her when she was due that Nidetch tried something different. She started a support group with her friends that turned into weekly classes and later incorporated Weight Watchers in 1963 — it was a runaway success.

An astounding 16,000 Weight Watchers members attended the company’s star-studded 10th anniversary gathering at Madison Square Garden in 1973.

After the company went public, it was sold to H.J. Heinz for $71.2 million. Nidetch stayed on as head of public relations until 1984.

Just recently, Weight Watchers was ranked as the number one diet in the country with the best long-term weight loss rate for its users.

Author

Maia Efrem

Maia Efrem

Maia Efrem has worked at the Forward since 2010 and currently serves as research editor and assistant to the editor. Maia is the editor of the Assimilator, the Forward’s arts and culture blog and is responsible for the Forward’s annual Salary Survey. Previously she served as the editor of Blognik Beat, a blog written by students who emigrated from or have ties to the Former Soviet Union. Maia is a graduate of Hunter College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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Jean Nidetch, Founder of Weight Watchers, Dies at 91

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