Oprah Winfrey to step down from WeightWatchers board after revealing weight loss drug use

Oprah Winfrey is parting ways with the board of directors at WeightWatchers after disclosing her use of weight loss medication last year.

Winfrey, 70, who has been the company's largest shareholder since joining in 2015, announced Wednesday that she will not run for re-election at the shareholders meeting in May.

The media mogul vowed to donate her current and any future earnings from her WeightWatchers stock to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in March "to eliminate any perceived conflict of interest around her taking weight loss medications," a press release shared Wednesday via the company's corporate website stated.

Oprah Winfrey is parting ways with the board at WeightWatchers.
Oprah Winfrey is parting ways with the board at WeightWatchers.

"I look forward to continuing to advise and collaborate with WeightWatchers and CEO Sima Sistani in elevating the conversation around recognizing obesity as a chronic condition, working to reduce stigma, and advocating for health equity," the media mogul 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."

Thilo Semmelbauer, chairman of the board at WeightWatchers, added, "Oprah has been an inspiring presence and passionate advocate for our members … I would like to thank her for her energy, dedication, and for continuing to play a role as collaborator and thought partner going forward."

In March, WeightWatchers announced it would add weight loss drugs like Wegovy to its program.

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Oprah opened up about shame around weight loss drugs

Winfrey's weight has long been the subject of intense scrutiny. In a People cover story, published in December, she discussed being "blamed and shamed" constantly over her weight.

"The Color Purple" producer said it wasn't until 2023 that she added weight loss medication to her health regimen, which also includes hiking, eating her last meal at 4 p.m. and drinking a gallon of water a day.

"I had an awareness of medications, but felt I had to prove I had the willpower to do it. I now no longer feel that way," Winfrey told People. "Obesity is a disease. It's not about willpower – it's about the brain."

After looking into the science behind the medication, Winfrey said she "released my own shame about it" and consulted her doctor, who prescribed it to her.

"The fact that there's a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, in my lifetime, feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift, and not something to hide behind and once again be ridiculed for," Winfrey said. "I'm absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself."

Contributing: Taijuan Moorman

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Oprah Winfrey to exit WeightWatchers amid weight loss drug use