Weight Watchers Helps Build Healthy Economy

Much like the healthy eating habits she preaches, Florine Mark's business is a balance of preparation, organization and clever public relations.

While it makes sense to maintain a reasonable weight, most people just don't want to do the work that comes with a fit lifestyle. That's where Weight Watchers comes in the program teaches its members how to eat well over a lifetime. Through its simple approach, Mark's franchise has helped millions of people do something they never thought they wanted to do.

In theory, it's a business that never sees a slowdown. And things have been busier than ever for Mark, who serves not only as CEO but as the very public face of Weight Watchers here. Besides the obvious need for people to be in good physical shape, the rising costs of health care due to obesity-related diseases as well as the demand for new workplace and public-policy initiatives related to weight loss continue to gain national attention.

Knowing how to lose unwanted pounds and keep them off is a skill set in high demand. And that is why Mark is working nonstop these days, moving between her Farmington Hills offices, the state capital, her Weight Watchers meeting rooms across Michigan and her charitable works. The spotlight on wellness offers significant potential for the right company, and Mark is in position to be the spokeswoman to change the way people look at and consume food.

If you look at pure numbers, Mark is running a remarkable business. Last year, her Weight Watchers franchise helped its 55,000 members lose a collective 5.27 million pounds. The franchise, which serves the state and parts of Canada, has more than 700 weekly meetings for its membership, who must attend regularly to hear information about diet, nutrition and positive reinforcement.

Bringing it to work
Mark's longtime At Work program is gaining new fans lately as well. The program, which brings the venerable Weight Watchers system to the workplace, is in the midst of a renaissance, gaining new traction among employers who are looking to boost employee morale, reduce absenteeism and cut their health care costs.

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