Weight Watchers waves Goodbye

Jean Nidecht, 91, has passed away. Who is she you might ask? The woman who turned her weight loss struggles into a multi-million dollar empire – Weight Watchers.

Weight Watchers waves Goodbye

Weighing almost 100kgs in her late 30s and frustrated with the obesity clinics of the 1950s, Nidecht invited her friends to come to her apartment and discuss their dietary struggles.

The weekly meetings grew to dozens of attendees and Nidetch reached her goal weight of 64kgs a year later.

Related: True Franchise Confessions

Come 1963, she incorporated Weight Watchers. Today, the company offers meetings (both online and in person) to thousands of people across the world, promotes weight loss using a proprietary points system to limit calorie consumption, and sells packaged foods, exercise equipment, DVDs and cookbooks.

The company went public in 1968 and was bought a decade later by Heinz for $71 million, but Nidetch’s greatest success was never gaining back the weight. Though what she did with her millions remains a mystery – she retired in a modest senior community and inexplicably wrote in her 2009 autobiography, “I’m not a millionaire anymore.”

Tracy Lee Nicol
About the Author
Tracy-Lee Nicol is the managing editor of Franchise Zone Magazine and deputy editor of Entrepreneur Magazine. She studied her Masters degree in Art History and Visual Culture at Rhodes University and spent the next two years working and travelling in Asia. Her love of people, business and teaching is reflected in telling the stories of entrepreneurs, franchisees and franchisors, inspiring others to take the leap to being their own boss and bringing about positive change in South Africa.

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