Jean Nidetch, Jewish Founder of Weight Watchers, Dies at 91

by Suzanne Samin at Kveller.com

Every Sunday afternoon, I get a text from my mother with a number. Sometimes it’s a two with a string of celebratory emojis, sometimes it’s a one, and sometimes it’s a zero with a sad face. She’s telling me about how much weight she’s lost on any given week, which she learns at her weigh-in at her local Weight Watchers meeting.

My mom lost 85 pounds on the program when she was trying to have me, and is now redoing the program 24 years later to try to alleviate some of her health issues. So far, she’s lost over 20 pounds. For my mom, Weight Watchers has been a life changer on more than one occasion–and it continues to be for over 1.3 million people around the world. So when the news broke yesterday that the program’s founder Jean Nidetch died, it hurt my heart.

According to the outstanding obituary written for her by the New York Times, Nidetch was first motivated to lose weight after a friend mistook her for being pregnant.

Her biggest food weakness? Mallomars…and meat.

She originally lost 72 pounds using nutritional guidance that she would later incorporate into her weight loss program–which she founded after hitting her goal weight in 1962. She was never overweight again after that.

Thanks to Nidetch–whose original name was the more Jewish-sounding Slutsky–millions of people have been able to make the lifestyle changes they needed to feel their best selves. Her legacy will live on forever not only in her program, but in the lives she changed, and the men and women who feel comfortable discussing their weight and supporting one another because of her.