Jean Nidetch, founder of popular diet plan Weight Watchers, died on Wednesday at her home in Parkland, Florida, according to Time and other sources. She was 91 years old.
Nidetch started the hugely successful business after dropping 70 pounds. Down to 142 pounds from 214, Nidetch began hosting weekly meetings with her friends at her home.
That's how Weight Watchers was born. The company went public in 1968, and before Nidetch knew it, she and her fellow founders were millionaires, Time reports.
The original diet plan focused largely on lean meats, fruits and vegetables, but its crucial and unique ingredient was emotional support, as The New York Times explains.
Weekly meetings provided those on the program with mutual understanding of each other’s struggles. The diet also required participants to maintain “journals to keep track of what one ate, diets with realistic goals and lifelong maintenance programs, supportive magazines and books, television forums, camps, and meetings like those for alcoholics, with confessions and motivational speakers,” The New York Times details.
In a 2011 interview with The Sun Sentinel, Nidetch said, “We ourselves hold the instrument that makes us fat.”
She added, “I just shake my head when I see someone eating cake and saying, ‘Oh, I wish I wasn’t heavy.’ But they keep eating the cake!”