Jean Nidetch started what is now known as Weight Watchers International, a worldwide food and services company that assists in weight loss. Nidetch was a dieting New York housewife who in 1961 began hosting meetings with other dieters as a way of garnering mutual moral support. The meetings were so popular that Nidetch, with the help of Felice and Albert Lippert, turned Weight Watchers into a business in 1963; in 1968 the company went public. Since the late 1970s Nidetch has served the company as a consultant and been an advocate for the advancement of women in business and politics. One of the most successful weight loss programs in the world, Weight Watchers International, Inc. still offers Nidetch's original vision of support groups, but over the years it also became a major brand name in the packaged foods business. Nidetch lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she is a well-known supporter of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).
Between 1978 and 1999 Weight Watchers was owned by the H.J. Heinz Company. Since 1999 the majority stockholder has been the European financial firm of Artal Luxembourg.