THIS IS BIG by Marisa Meltzer


How the Founder of Weight Watchers Changed the World—And Me
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Parallel stories of a woman on Weight Watchers and the life of the woman who created the diet program.

When New Yorker and New York Times contributor Meltzer (Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music, 2010, etc.) came across the obituary for Jean Nidetch (1923-2015), the housewife who invented Weight Watchers, she decided she wanted to join the program and to learn more about Nidetch. As the author writes, she has struggled with her weight since she was a small child, and she was intrigued to learn how Nidetch overcame her own issues and created the internationally known diet program. Meltzer interweaves her story of weight gain and loss with that of Nidetch. The combination creates an informative picture of what life is like for obese women who constantly obsess about food. Nidetch’s biggest downfall was eating boxes of chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies in the bathroom where no one could see her. It took an incident at the grocery store, when she was mistakenly identified as pregnant, to set her on the track to creating Weight Watchers. “To say that it was a moment that she would never forget,” writes Meltzer, “that would define and transform the rest of her life, is an understatement.” The author followed the program for a year and offers details about each month. She tried out various meetings but quickly got bored with her meals and eating only her allocated points for the day. Meltzer also discusses other diet plans, her struggles with finding men in her life who accepted her without judgment, and the frustrations she felt that her weight often defined her in other people’s eyes before they got to know her. Her story will resonate with readers who have struggled with weight and body image issues.

A straightforward memoir of struggling with obesity and finding inspiration from the founder of Weight Watchers.

Pub Date: April 14th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-316-41400-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020