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Oprah makes bold confession: 'I set an unrealistic standard for dieting'

The talk show host spoke on a live event broadcast on YouTube in partnership with WeightWatchers

Faye James
Senior Editor
10 May 2024
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In an enlightening live event broadcast on YouTube in partnership with WeightWatchers, Oprah Winfrey opened up about her previous contributions to promoting unrealistic and unhealthy diet standards. 

During the three-hour special that also featured insights from celebrities like Rebel Wilson and Amber Riley, and WeightWatchers CEO Sima Sistani, Oprah candidly discussed her long-standing role within the diet industry and her commitment to changing this narrative towards one of body acceptance and health at every size.

“I want to acknowledge that I have been a steadfast participant in this diet culture,” Oprah revealed to her audience. 

Through her influential platforms—her magazine, her 25-year tenure on her talk show, and online—Oprah recognized her impact. "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,” she shared. 

Oprah and WeightWatchers host “Making the Shift" with Rebel Wilson, Busy Philipps and more

She admitted that the focus on weight had set unrealistic standards for her viewers, standards that not even she could uphold and said she “set a standard for people watching that I nor anybody else could uphold.”

The event marked a significant pivot for WeightWatchers away from traditional diet culture towards a more holistic approach to health, which includes medical interventions like the use of weight-loss medications such as Ozempic. 

Oprah speaking onstage during the 29th Annual Critics Choice Awards© Getty
Oprah wowed in a purple mermaid gown

Sima Sistani underscored this evolution, pointing out that weight loss is not strictly a matter of willpower and that the prevailing culture of body shaming is unhealthy.

In a personal revelation, Oprah told People Magazine in December that she has integrated a “weight-loss medication into her regimen,” although she did not specify which. 

Oprah on stage behind a mic wearing a purple dress© Getty
Oprah is worth $2.8bn

Her new approach aligns with her departure from the board of WeightWatchers earlier this year—a decision that ended nearly a decade-long tenure with the company. 

This move, she clarified, was not due to any disagreement but was a proactive step to avoid any conflict of interest as WeightWatchers transitions into a health-focused company that administers weight-related medications.

Oprah black dress with pop of purple© Getty
Oprah loves a pop of purple

Further underscoring her commitment to making impactful societal contributions, Oprah announced that she would be donating all her stock in WeightWatchers to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Her departure came sooner than expected, having previously extended her contract through 2025.

Sima Sistani, speaking with investors, expressed gratitude for Oprah’s enduring influence and advocacy: “Oprah is an inspiring presence and passionate advocate both for our members and for society at large, in elevating the conversation around weight health,” she said.

Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage © Kevin Winter
Oprah spoke about her role in dieting

 “While I and the rest of our directors will certainly miss her in our board meetings following the end of her current term, she remains a strong strategic voice and collaborator with WeightWatchers.”

The shares of WeightWatchers (WW) have seen a significant downturn, dropping nearly 75% over the last 12 months. However, in anticipation of the live event hosted by Oprah, they surged more than 11%.

In a March appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, Oprah explained her decision to leave the WeightWatchers board, emphasizing her desire for freedom in her professional narrative. “I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I want to talk about,” she stated. 

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