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.
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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.”