In the early '60s, Weight Watchers founder Jean Nidetch began inviting friends into her Queens home every week to discuss how best to lose weight. Fast-forward half a century, and the diet club has blossomed into 50,000 meetings each week in countries all over the world. And in 2015, Oprah Winfrey became a partial owner of the company.
As much support group as eating plan, Weight Watchers owes its success not only to its points-based system, but to the motivation and empowerment it provides. The old points system worked on a straight per-calorie basis, with members allowed a certain amount of points for which they could spend eating in whatever way they chose. A revamped points system, Points Plus, now assigns higher point values for calorie-dense foods with more fat and simple carbs, while protein- and fiber-rich foods get fewer. Fresh fruits and non-starchy vegetables are allowed in unlimited quantities. The plan encourages people to eat a wide variety of healthy foods — split between three meals plus snacks, within an individualized calorie level.