Oprah Winfrey reveals why she left WeightWatchers after admitting to weight loss drug use

“Feeling the shame of fighting a losing battle with weight, is a story all too familiar.” (Getty Images for Critics Choice)

Oprah Winfrey has opened up about her decision to leave the WeightWatchers board.

The media mogul, 70, appeared on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, where she revealed that she resigned from her position on the board of WeightWatchers, after nearly a decade, due to her upcoming special about prescription weight loss medications.

“I decided that, because this special was really important to me and I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I want to talk about, and WeightWatchers is now in the business of being a weight health company that also administers drug medications for weight,” Winfrey said. “I did not want to have the appearance of any conflict of interest.”

The former talk show host admitted she resigned from the board as a result of her forthcoming TV special, titled ​​“An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution”, which airs 18 March on ABC. She subsequently donated all of her shares in the company to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“So, nobody can say: ‘Oh, she’s doing that special. She’s making money and promoting.’ No. You cannot say that,” Winfrey stressed. When the longtime spokeswoman was asked by Kimmel whether WeightWatchers cried when she announced her resignation, the film producer quipped: “They almost did.”

In February, Winfrey announced that she was stepping down from her position on the WeightWatchers board. The Oscar winner first became involved with the company when she used its weight loss program for herself, before acquiring a significant stake and becoming a board member in 2015. In her statement, Winfrey noted that she would continue to be involved in the message behind WeightWatchers.

“I look forward to continuing to advise and collaborate with WeightWatchers and CEO Sima Sistani in elevating the conversation around recognising obesity as a chronic condition, working to reduce stigma, and advocating for health equity,” she said.

“Weight Health is a critically important topic and one that needs to be addressed at a broader scale. I plan to participate in a number of public forums and events where I will be a vocal advocate in advancing this conversation,” Winfrey added.

The announcement came just a few months after the billionaire revealed she was using prescription weight loss medication. While Winfrey didn’t name the weight loss drug brand, she still praised the medication for allowing her to live a healthier lifestyle amid career-spanning scrutiny over her weight.

Speaking to Kimmel, Winfrey explained that she was initially inspired to lose weight without the use of weight loss medication after undergoing rehabilitation following her 2021 knee surgery. However, doctors told the OWN founder that “obesity is a disease” and her weight will always fluctuate.

“I’ve been in the storm of losing the weight, gaining it back. Losing the weight, gaining it back, and what I realised when I listened to what the doctor said, that you are always going to put it back on, and it’s like holding your breath underwater and trying not to rise,” she explained.

Prescription medications such as Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro have recently risen in popularity for their off-label weight loss side effects. Ozempic is a once-weekly injection used for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, which works by mimicking a hormone to regulate appetite and create the feeling of fullness. Wegovy is another semaglutide injection specifically approved for the treatment of obesity and weight loss, while Mounjaro is the first diabetes drug to target a second hormone, GIP.

Winfrey’s special, “Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution,” will discuss the impact of prescription weight loss medications, as well as questions and concerns surrounding popular semaglutide or glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) injections. The special airs Monday 18 March at 8pm ET on ABC.