- 1961: Jean Nidetch, a 38-year-old "overweight housewife obsessed with cookies," had struggled with her weight throughout childhood and checks herself into the Obesity Clinic at the New York City Board of Health in a last-ditch effort to lose weight, but is again disappointed. She decided to combine a sensible diet with group support meetings after she solicited several friends to do just that. Soon, 40 women were meeting to talk about their progress and keep each other accountable. After losing 72 pounds, Nidetch attracted hundreds of people by word-of-mouth who wanted to join. The first meetings were held over a pizza shop. The owner couldn't figure out why the hundreds of people lining up outside never bought anything. Nidetch worked with him to create a Weight Watchers milkshake that became a bestseller.
- 1963: Weight Watchers International is incorporated and the first corporate meeting with 400 attendees is held in Queens, N.Y. where Jean Nidetch is elected president and treasurer. The original program encouraged members to follow a unique menu plan featuring various foods in specified quantities and to never skip meals.
- 1967: Weight Watchers becomes global, operating through a network of 102 franchises in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Great Britain and Israel.
- 1970-1971: Jean Nidetch publishes "The Memoir of a Successful Loser, The Story of Weight Watchers," documenting the original Weight Watchers plan. The company moves away from "dieting" and toward "eating management" – developing tailored options to meet the varying needs of its members, including a specialized food plan for the management of weight loss plateaus and a maintenance plan.
- 1978: Weight Watchers becomes the first weight-loss company to promote the importance of regular exercise with the introduction of PepStep.
- 1979: Weight Watchers is asked to appear before the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources to react to the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services Dietary Guidelines – an indication of Weight Watchers scientific expert stature in the field of weight control. As a result of these hearings, the U.S. Public Health Service set weight loss as the first of 79 health objectives for the country.
- 1988: Weight Watchers begins collaboration with the American Heart Association as the Weight Watchers test kitchen develops a series of main-course recipes consistent with the American Heart Association's Dietary Guidelines for Healthy American Adults.
- 1997: Weight Watchers introduces the POINTS ® system– a new system that used a formula of calories, fat, and fiber to assign POINTS values to every food.
- 2001: Weight Watchers launches Weight Watchers Online, where subscribers can follow the Weight Watchers plan entirely online. For meetings members, Weight Watchers launches eTools, the internet companion to meetings, which offers digital tools to help members track POINTS values, save their favorite foods for faster and easier tracking and get ideas personalized to their stage of weight loss.
- 2007: Weight Watchers introduces Weight Watchers Online for Men.
- 2010: Weight Watchers launches PointsPlus ®, a new program designed to nudge members toward healthier, more satisfying food choices. The new formula used fat, carbohydrates, fiber and protein to calculate PointsPlus values.
- 2012: Weight Watchers was ranked #1 for Best Commercial Diet Plan and Best Weight-Loss Diet for the second year in a row, as well as Easiest Diet to Follow, by U.S. News and World Report reinforcing the efficacy, scalability, and accessibility of the program.
- 2013: Weight Watchers furthers its commitment to long-term lifestyle change with the introduction of the new Weight Watchers 360 ° program. Built for human nature and perfectly designed for the world we live in today, the newest Program combines the most current nutritional science with the latest in behavioral science – offering a breakthrough approach that builds on the PointsPlus plan, teaching members how to build healthy routines and set up their environments to lose weight successfully and learn to keep it off.
Weight Watchers Celebrates 50th Anniversary By Honoring Its Founder - Jean Nidetch - With A Flagship Center Dedication
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