NEW YORK, July 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Weight Watchers International, Inc. (NYSE: WTW) today announced the retirement of Co-Chief Scientific Officer, Karen Miller-Kovach, MBA, MS, RD, who led the scientific thinking behind the Weight Watchers program globally for more than two decades. Gary Foster, Ph.D., who joined Weight Watchers International in 2013 as Co-Chief Scientific Officer, will now serve as Chief Scientific Officer, overseeing the company's science-based program, all clinical research initiatives, and continued program innovation. Dr. Foster previously was the Founder and Director of the Center of Obesity Research and Education and Laura Carnell Professor of Medicine, Public Health and Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Miller-Kovach took on the role of Chief Scientific Officer in 1993 to ensure that all programming offered to Weight Watchers members represented the most advanced findings in the fields of obesity and weight management. She spearheaded 100 clinical research initiatives sponsored by Weight Watchers International, as well as nearly 30 studies funded by leading independent health organizations, and served as a contributor to numerous articles for leading nutrition and medical journals.
In 1997, Miller-Kovach's work led to the development of the revolutionary Weight Watchers POINTS® system that used a formula of calories, fat, and fiber to assign POINTS values to every food. Miller-Kovach holds eight patents, including the patent for the POINTS formula, as well as the formula for the PointsPlus® system that launched in 2010, which used the latest scientific research to create a program that went far beyond traditional calorie counting. The new system was designed to guide people to foods that are nutrient dense, nudging them toward more healthful choices that support successful weight loss.
"Karen's break-through research created an entirely new currency in the field of weight management," said Jim Chambers, President and CEO, Weight Watchers International, Inc. "Her innovative programming has given millions of members a livable approach to weight loss that nudges you toward healthy choices, while embracing the philosophy that no foods should be off limits."
"It's an honor to carry on Karen's legacy of using an evidence-based approach to help our members make choices that will help them achieve their goals," said Foster, Chief Scientific Officer, Weight Watchers International, Inc.
In addition to her work in research and program development, Miller-Kovach authored six books, including Weight Watchers She Loses, He Loses: The Truth about Men, Women and Weight Loss, and Weight Watchers Family Power: 5 Simple Rules for a Healthy Weight Home.
Miller-Kovach steps down from the Executive Committee and transitions out of the role of Co-Chief Scientific Officer, but will continue to serve in a consulting role.
Prior to joining Weight Watchers, Miller-Kovach spent 14 years at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation (1979-1992), a major, tertiary medical facility located in Cleveland, Ohio. As the Foundation's Director of Nutrition Services, she was a health care administrator, nutrition practitioner, and clinical researcher. She also served as a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association from 1986 to 1993.
Miller-Kovach graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Technology from Bowling Green State University, completed her dietetic internship at University Hospitals of Cleveland, and received a Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University and became a Registered Dietitian in 1979. She also holds an MBA in Executive Management from Baldwin-Wallace College.
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 more than 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. For more information about Weight Watchers, visit WeightWatchers.com.
SOURCE Weight Watchers International, Inc.