Oprah Winfrey reveals she is leaving WeightWatchers after using weight loss drug

Oprah Winfrey has announced that she is leaving the WeightWatchers board.

Winfrey — who had joined the company program, acquired a significant stake and also became a board member in 2015 — announced she will leave the executive position in May and donate her shares to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, according to a statement the company released on Wednesday 28 February.

Despite leaving the health company, the actress included in her statement 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 statement concluded as chairman of the board, Thilo Semmelbauer, thanked Winfrey for all of the work she’s done for the company as a board member.

“Oprah has been an inspiring presence and passionate advocate for our members, providing critical insights and counsel that has helped shape WeightWatchers over these last eight years,” he said.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank her for her energy, dedication, and for continuing to play a role as collaborator and thought partner going forward. What I know for sure, we will dearly miss her presence on the Board.”

The announcement comes just a few months after the 70-year-old billionaire admitted to using a weight loss medication after months of speculation. She confirmed to People that she uses an unnamed weight loss drug as a tool to manage her weight. She praised the medication for allowing her to live a healthier lifestyle amid career-spanning scrutiny over her weight.

“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. I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself,” she told the outlet in a cover story published on 13 December.

The former talk show host stressed that the prescription drug she uses isn’t singularly responsible for her weight loss. Rather, Winfrey credited her overall weight loss to her regimen and added that the medication is just one of many tools in her arsenal.

She told People that her weight loss journey had been spurred after she underwent rehabilitation following her 2021 knee surgery.

“After knee surgery, I started hiking and setting new distance goals each week. I could eventually hike three to five miles every day and a 10-mile straight-up hike on weekends,” she said. “I felt stronger, more fit and more alive than I’d felt in years.”

Winfrey continued: “I eat my last meal at four o’clock, drink a gallon of water a day, and use the WeightWatchers principles of counting points. I had an awareness of [weight loss] medications, but felt I had to prove I had the willpower to do it. I now no longer feel that way.”

The Independent has contacted Winfrey and WeightWatchers for comment.