Oprah Winfrey Resigned From Weight Watchers to Be Open About Her Weight Loss Story

“I did not want to have the appearance of any conflict of interest [with Weight Watchers], and so I resigned from the Board and I donated all my shares.”

Jamie Lerner - Author

Mar. 19 2024, Published 1:51 p.m. ET

Oprah Winfrey at the 55th NAACP Awards in a purple dress on March 16, 2024
Source: Getty Images

At 70 years old, Oprah Winfrey is still finding ways to change her life, and subsequently, our lives as well. One of her biggest marks on society has been her dedication to and openness about her weight loss journey, punctuated by her relationship with Weight Watchers. While it may feel like society is trying to move away from encouraging weight loss, replacing that with body positivity, Oprah knows that weight loss can be an important facet of living a healthy life.

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That’s why she decided to do a special on ABC on March 18, 2024, titled An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame, and the Weight Loss Revolution. However, this special also led to her decision to leave Weight Watchers behind. So why exactly did Oprah leave Weight Watchers?

Oprah on the set of 'An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame, and the Weight Loss Revolution'
Source: ABC
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Oprah Winfrey decided to leave Weight Watchers so she could do her special without any conflict of interest.

In 2015, Oprah was basically synonymous with Weight Watchers. Her partnership with the company entailed a 10 percent stake, becoming the company spokesperson, and joining the Board of Directors. Her involvement led them to launch their holistic lifestyle and fitness program, “Beyond the Scale,” which encouraged members to eat more healthily and exercise, going beyond the traditional points system.

At the time, Oprah explained in O, The Oprah Magazine, “I’ve wishy-washed with diets and exercise my whole life. Now I’m ready to go beyond the scale and declare a new way of being in the world. The folks at Weight Watchers called me in July and asked if I’d join their team and help spread the message about taking a holistic approach to health and fitness.”

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Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage at the Your Life in Focus event by Weight Watchers on Jan. 4, 2020
Source: Getty Images

However, Oprah has made a change to her approach to weight loss in 2024. She told People, “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. I felt stronger, more fit, and more alive than I’d felt in years."

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Because of this change in lifestyle, Oprah also started having conversations around weight loss medications, such as Ozempic, which boomed in 2023. During a taped panel conversation in July 2023, Oprah first opened up about obesity as a disease that requires medication. “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,” she said. "Obesity is a disease. It’s not about willpower — it's about the brain."

Oprah Winfrey at the GLAAD Awards on March 14, 2024
Source: Getty Images
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For her March 2024 special, Oprah wanted to be able to talk freely about this journey. So she explained to Jimmy Kimmel, “I resigned,” she said to Jimmy when he asked why she “quit” Weight Watchers. “I decided that because this special was really important to me and I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I wanted to talk about and Weight Watchers is now in the business of being a weight health company that also administers drug medications for weight.”

Oprah is referring to Weight Watchers’ 2023 acquisition of Sequence, a telehealth subscription service, which provides access to Ozempic prescriptions. “I did not want to have the appearance of any conflict of interest [with Weight Watchers], and so I resigned from the Board and I donated all my shares to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.”

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She added, “Nobody can say, ‘Oh, she’s doing that special, she’s making money and promoting’ — No, you cannot say that.” Even still, the Weight Watchers team was extremely supportive of Oprah’s decision.

Weight Watchers International Chairman Thilo Semmelbauer added in a statement: “Oprah has been an inspiring presence and passionate advocate for our members, providing critical insights and counsel that has helped shape Weight Watchers over these last 8 years. 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, is we will dearly miss her presence on the board.”

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