Jean Nidetch, a New York woman who tackled obesity and shared her solutions with others through her creation of the multi-million dollar business Weight Watchers died on Wednesday. She was 91, and died at her home near Fort Lauderdale according to her son.

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Jean always had a weight problem, and underwent several diets including pills and treatments, but they all failed to slim her down. She was 214 pounds at 5-foot-7 when she decided to go to an obesity clinic sponsored by the New York City Board of Health in 196. That is where she began to pick up tips that actually worked for her.

She shed two pounds within the first two weeks, but eventually disliked the way the clinic’s leader imparted information, and how little the obesity group’s members shared. So, she gathered six of her overweight friends in her Queens living room one night to share what she’d learned, and to talk about their own food problems. She found it a relief to share her struggle with others, and they did too. This is eventually how Weight Watchers began.


Nidetch traveled the world preaching Weight Watchers’ simple gospel, and became a millionaire along the way. Her first marriage ended in divorce in 1971; Marty Nidetch died in 2003. A second marriage, to Frank Schifano in 1976, lasted just a few months before ending in divorce.