Weight Watchers Celebrates 50th Anniversary By Honoring Its Founder - Jean Nidetch - With A Flagship Center Dedication

Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:00am EDT

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Jennifer Hudson Pays Tribute to Nidetch During Ceremony
NEW YORK,  March 25, 2013  /PRNewswire/ -- As the world's leading provider of
weight management services celebrates its 50th anniversary, Weight Watchers
International, Inc. (NYSE: WTW) dedicates its flagship store in  New York  to
its founder and weight loss pioneer,  Jean Nidetch, in the city where it all
began.  During the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony, fellow trailblazer
and Ambassador  Jennifer Hudson  will pay tribute to Nidetch while  Andrea
Shapiro Davis, executive director of the NYC Commission on Women's Issues,
proclaims  March 25, 2013  "Weight Watchers Founder Celebration Day" in the 
City of New York, on behalf of Mayor  Michael R. Bloomberg.  

In 1961, desperate to lose weight, Nidetch attended a  New York City  obesity
clinic and found a critical component to be missing: support from others who
wanted to lose weight and leadership from someone who had successfully done so.
She used what she learned to begin weight-loss meetings with a group of her
overweight friends in her living room in Queens.  This is where the model of the
Weight Watchers meeting was born: a supportive environment of people working
towards the same goal of losing weight and developing a healthier lifestyle,
facilitated by a passionate Leader who had successfully done so herself.  

"As we reflect on and celebrate the past half-century of success, we look to the
next 50 years of innovation inspired by the passion and energy that  Jean
Nidetch  instilled in the company from day one," said  David Kirchhoff, CEO,
Weight Watchers International. "Jean set the standard by building a program
guided by current advancements in nutritional science, which continues to be the
foundation of our approach."

Weight Watchers Senior Vice President of Marketing  Cheryl Callan  will present
a plaque before the group ceremoniously cuts the ribbon to officially dedicate
the Weight Watchers Jean Nidetch Center at 139 East 57th  Street,  New York, NY,
which will feature inspiring archival imagery of the  New York  native whose
passion for helping others ignited a weight loss revolution.

"It's fitting that during Women's History Month we are recognizing this
extraordinary woman and visionary entrepreneur who has inspired life-changing
transformations for millions," said Callan. "We are proud to add Jean's name to
our flagship  New York City  center in recognition of her vision, which lives on
in every Weight Watchers meeting around the world."  

"Fifty years ago, I could have never imagined how Weight Watchers would change
millions of lives around the world," said  Jean Nidetch, 89, founder of Weight
Watchers. "I know firsthand how it feels to be overweight and frustrated with
unsuccessful weight loss options, but it gives me such pleasure to see what the
Program has become and how it continues to transform lives - like it did mine. I
am grateful to be honored with this center dedication, and I hope it serves as a
place of hope, success and good health for many years to come."

Weight Watchers Then and Now

After 50 years of transforming lives, Weight Watchers celebrates the vision of 
Jean Nidetch  and the breakthroughs that have helped to shape the company and
how people lose weight - all leading to the 2013 launch of Weight Watchers
360°.

* 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.

About Weight Watchers International, Inc.  

Weight Watchers International, Inc. is the world's leading provider of weight
management services, operating globally through a network of Company-owned and
franchise operations. Weight Watchers holds over 40,000 meetings each week where
members receive group support and learn about healthy eating patterns, behavior
modification and physical activity. WeightWatchers.com provides innovative,
subscription weight management products over the Internet and is the leading
Internet-based weight management provider in the world. In addition, Weight
Watchers offers a wide range of products, publications and programs for those
interested in weight loss and weight control.

SOURCE  Weight Watchers International, Inc.


Kristi Widmar, +1-212-589-2786, Kristi.Widmar@weightwatchers.com; or Margo
Schneider, +1-646-935-4170, Margo.Schneider@Ketchum.com

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