Probably most people's first thought of diet plan, Weightwatchers is a slimming program that spans the world and counts its membership over the last 40 years in millions.
New Yorker Jean Nidetch, Who described herself as an "overweight housewife obsessed with eating cookies", formed it in 1961. WeightWatchers was born when she decided that the only way to stick to a sensible diet was by organising regular group support meetings. The very first was held over a pizza shop and in a year Nidetch lost 72 pounds and had attracted hundred of potential members by word-of-mouth.
A network of branches expanded across America and in the mid sixties Weight Watchers arrived in the UK - the first branch was in Windsor. Today over 6,000 Meetings are now held each week somewhere in the county led by a leader who has herself lost weight through the programme.
The underlying philosophy is straightforward. It combines healthy, well-balanced nutrition with encouragement to examine how habitual behaviour impacts on what someone eats, when they eat and why they eat. Practical advice on long term strategies that can be realistically slotted into a slimmer's individual life style is linked to weekly supportive sessions. It is these that are the keystones of the programme as meeting to compare results with other dieters is a powerful motivating factor.
Each new member is weighed and allocated a number of points according to sex and weight and has to keep within those points each day. Animal fats aren't forbidden but they have the most points. Most vegetables have no points at all, so the diet encourages low calorie healthy eating while still being flexible.
Once a member has reached his or her goal weight they qualify for gold membership. This means that they can continue to attend meetings free of charge in order to maintain their weight.