Oprah and Semaglutide

Oprah Winfrey Criticizes Her Past Weight-Loss Methods

Oprah Winfrey recently condemned her previous approaches to weight loss during WeightWatchers’ three-hour “Making the Shift” live event on Thursday. The former television host admitted she had been “a steadfast participant in this diet culture” for decades.

Acknowledging Past Actions

Winfrey reflected on her influence over the years: “Through my platforms, through the magazine, through the talk show for 25 years and online. I’ve been a major contributor to it. I cannot tell you how many weight-loss shows and makeovers I have done, and they have been a staple since I’ve been working in television.”

Winfrey, who served on WeightWatchers’ board of directors for nearly a decade and was a prominent spokesperson for the brand, joined a lineup of guest speakers including Rebel Wilson, Busy Phillips, Amber Riley, and WeightWatchers CEO Sima Sistani.

Regrets from the Past

During the event, Winfrey recalled a particularly troubling moment from her talk show when she presented a red Radio Flyer wagon filled with 67 pounds of fat to demonstrate her weight loss after months of a liquid-only fast.

“I’ve shared how that famous wagon of fat moment on the ‘Oprah’ show is one of my biggest regrets,” she said. “It sent a message that starving yourself with a liquid diet set a standard for people watching that I nor anybody else could uphold.”

She added, “The very next day, I began to gain the weight back. Maya Angelou always said, ‘When you know better, you do better.’ So, these conversations, for me, are an effort to do better. I own what I’ve done, and I now want to do better.”

Struggles with Diet Culture

Winfrey noted that her struggle with “yo-yo diet moments” made her a “national joke.” The WeightWatchers event highlighted the company’s shift from promoting diet culture to supporting members, including those using weight-loss medications like Ozempic and Wegovy.

Embracing Medication

In December, Winfrey revealed that she had turned to weight-loss medication, semaglutide, “as a tool” to achieve a slimmer figure after previously refusing to share this information.

Reflecting on public scrutiny about her weight, Winfrey told People, “I didn’t feel angry. I felt sad. I felt hurt. I swallowed the shame. I accepted that it was my fault. It was public sport to make fun of me for 25 years. I have been blamed and shamed, and I blamed and shamed myself.”

Winfrey’s weight had occupied “five decades of space in my brain, yo-yoing and feeling like ‘why can’t I just conquer this thing,’ believing willpower was my failing.”

A Shift in Perspective

During a panel discussion for her website, Oprah Daily, she realized she shouldn’t have been so harsh on herself. “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.”

She explained, “I realized I’d been blaming myself all these years for being overweight, and I have a predisposition that no amount of willpower is going to control. Obesity is a disease. It’s not about willpower — it’s about the brain.”

Winfrey’s doctor then prescribed her a medication, which she chose not to name. She described the availability of medically approved prescriptions for managing weight as a “relief, like redemption, like a gift.”

Moving Forward

After announcing her use of medication to aid in weight loss, Winfrey stepped down from the WeightWatchers board of directors after nearly a decade. “I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself,” she concluded.