Jean Nidetch

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Jean Nidetch
Born Jean Evelyn Slutsky
(1923-10-12)October 12, 1923
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died April 29, 2015(2015-04-29) (aged 91)
Parkland, Florida, U.S.
Ethnicity Jewish
Education City College of New York
Occupation Businesswoman
Known for founder of Weight Watchers
Spouse(s) Mortimer Nidetch (divorced) Spouse2 (divorced)
Children David Nidetch
Richard Nidetch (predeceased)
Parent(s) David and Mae Slutsky

Jean Evelyn Nidetch (née Slutsky, October 12, 1923 – April 29, 2015) was the cofounder of the Weight Watchers organization.

Early life[edit]

Nidetch was born to a Jewish family[1] 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, Nidetch enrolled in a business course at City College of New York. When her father died in 1942, Nidetch dropped out and started working.


Nidetch's first job was at the Mullin Furniture Company in Jamaica, New York. She later worked for Man O'War Publishing Company and the Internal Revenue Service. Nidetch met her husband at the IRS.

An overweight housewife with a self-confessed obsession for eating meat, 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[edit]

She was married to Mortimer Nidetch; they had two children, David and Richard. Richard died in 2006. They divorced in 1971. In 1975, she remarried for several months to a bass player she met on a cruise. She died on April 29, 2015, in Parkland, Florida at the age of 91.[2]


  1. ^ Jewish Women's Archive: "Jean Nidetch, Diet Queen" by Tara Metalin May 1, 2015
  2. ^ 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. 

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