Jean Evelyn Slutsky
October 12, 1923
|Died||April 29, 2015 (aged 91)|
Parkland, Florida, U.S.
|Education||City College of New York|
|Known for||Co-founder of Weight Watchers|
|Spouse(s)||Mortimer Nidetch (divorced); Frank Schifano (divorced)|
Richard Nidetch (predeceased)
|Parent(s)||David and Mae Slutsky|
Jean Evelyn Nidetch (née Slutsky, October 12, 1923 – April 29, 2015) was an American business entrepreneur who was the founder of the Weight Watchers organization.
Nidetch was born to an American Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, to David Slutsky, a cab driver, and Mae Slutsky, a manicurist. A graduate of Girls' High School, Nidetch received a partial scholarship to Long Island University but was unable to attend due to a lack of financial resources. Instead, she enrolled in a business course at City College of New York. When her father died in 1942, Nidetch dropped out and started working.
An overweight stay-at-home mom with a self-confessed obsession for eating cookies, Nidetch had experimented with numerous fad diets before she followed a regimen prescribed by a diet clinic sponsored by the New York City Board of Health in 1961. After losing 20 pounds (9.07 kg), and finding her resolve weakening, she contacted several overweight friends and founded a support group which developed into weekly classes, and incorporated on May 15, 1963 into the Weight Watchers organization.
In 1978, Weight Watchers was sold to the H. J. Heinz Company. Nidetch, who remained a consultant to the organization, established scholarship programs at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Personal life and death
She was married to Mortimer "Marty" Nidetch; they had two children, David and Richard. Richard died in 2006. Jean and Mortimer divorced in 1971. She later married and divorced Frank Schifano.
- Langer, Emily. "Jean Nidetch, ardent promoter of Weight Watchers, dies at 91". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
- Jewish Women's Archive: "Jean Nidetch, Diet Queen" by Tara Metalin May 1, 2015
- McFadden, Robert D. (April 29, 2015). "Jean Nidetch, 91, Dies; Eyeing Her Girth, She Helped Start Weight Watchers". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 29, 2015.
- Jean Evelyn Slutsky Nidetch at Find a Grave