November 28, 2023

When Oprah Winfrey speaks, the world listens—especially when it comes to how we treat our bodies. The media mogul, 69, is now talking about the controversial topic of weight loss drugs, specifically diabetes medications like Ozempic that have become popular for people looking to slim down.

In a recent panel discussion with obesity specialists Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford and Dr. Melanie Jay, as well as psychologist Dr. Rachel Goldman, Winfrey shared her thoughts on the drugs.

“Shouldn’t we all just be more accepting of whatever body you choose to be in? That should be your choice,” Winfrey said during the panel, which was called the “Life You Want Class: The State of Weight.” “Even when I first started hearing about the weight loss drugs, at the same time I was going through knee surgery, and I felt, I’ve got to do this on my own. Because if I take the drug, that’s the easy way out.”

While recovering from two knee replacement surgeries, she said, she used hiking as part of her rehabilitation and fitness plan.

Winfrey is a major shareholder and board member for WW International, more commonly known as Weight Watchers, the popular weight loss program that she credits with helping her lose 40 pounds in recent years. It’s not the first time she’s spoken out against weight loss supplements either: In 2022, she posted a video to her Instagram account warning people not to fall for weight loss gummy scams using her name and image.

“I have nothing to do with weight loss gummies or diet pills, and I don’t want you all taken advantage of by people misusing my name,” she said.

Weight Watchers also recently launched a service called Sequence, which helps eligible users to get prescription weight loss drugs. 

Winfrey, who has been a self-proclaimed yo-yo dieter, spoke candidly during the panel about the treatment of and stigma around overweight people, including herself.

“This is a world that has shamed people for being overweight forever, and all of us who have lived it know that people treat you differently, they just do,” she said. “And I’m Oprah Winfrey, and I know all that comes with that, but I get treated differently if I’m 200-plus pounds versus under 200 pounds.”

She continued: “One of the things that I’ve shamed myself about, and was shamed in the tabloids every week about for 25 years, is not having the willpower.”

Dr. Stanford called obesity “a chronic disease” and said she doesn’t use the word willpower with her patients.

“It’s hard to see you ostracized in the way that you’ve been, because this isn’t about willpower. It’s not your fault,” Dr. Stanford said. “It’s how our bodies regulate weight, and each of us is different, each of us is unique, not one is superior to another. We’re just different, and acting on those differences and treating the differences in the heterogeneity of the population is how we’re going to actually make change in this disease.”


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