Oprah's Dramatic Fallout With Weight Watchers Explained

Many Oprah Winfrey fans were shocked in February 2024 when she and WeightWatchers released a statement saying she would be walking away from the company after nearly a decade on its board of directors. Things seemed even more dramatic when it transpired that her use of medication in her weight loss transformation had something to do with it. However, in the months since her exit, Winfrey has made it clear that the fallout wasn't nearly as dramatic as it may have sounded. 

To refresh, the joint statement by Winfrey and WeightWatchers mentioned Winfrey wanting to halt any speculation that her taking medication compromised her integrity as a director of the company. As many may remember, the TV legend had confirmed taking a weight loss drug — widely assumed to be the controversial Ozempic used by many other stars, though she never specified — a few months prior. Speaking to People, she'd pointed out that even though she believed in the principles WeightWatchers used, obesity was a condition she lived with, and as such, even those principles would never help her to keep weight off. "I have a predisposition that no amount of willpower is going to control," she explained.

Unsurprisingly, even though Winfrey had mentioned using WeightWatchers' Points Program along with the medication, her revelation was met with a ton of backlash. Nevertheless, her exit never had anything to do with that — plus, it seems as though there's no bad blood between her and the company. 

Oprah Winfrey has said there was no drama

A month after her exit from WeightWatchers, Oprah Winfrey released an ABC special called "Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution." Ahead of that, she revealed in an episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that her decision to leave the company had, indeed, had everything to do with that. However, it wasn't for any dramatic reason. 

"This special was really important to me, and I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I wanted to talk about, and WeightWatchers is now in the business of being a weight health company that also administers drug medications for weight," she explained. As such, she was acutely aware that her affiliation with the company might make it look as though she was trying to push a product. By removing herself from the company, she explained, "Nobody can say, 'Oh, she's doing that special, she's making money, and promoting her ... no, you cannot say that." Fair enough!

As if that wasn't enough to allay concerns, in the same interview, Winfrey also pointed out that she didn't love hearing people say that she had "quit" the company. "I resigned — 'quit' sounds so, 'Whoa,'" she joked. Given that Winfrey had previously said in her and WeightWatchers' statement that she planned to keep working alongside the company, it makes sense that she didn't love people thinking there was a rift between them. 

Oprah and WeightWatchers are on the same page

Just in case there were concerns that Oprah Winfrey was ousted from WeightWatchers after admitting to taking medication, it's worth noting that in 2023, she did another TV special. The "The Life You Want" episode focused specifically on weight loss medication, and the company's CEO Sima Sistani was even included. In a surprising move, Sistani shared that she was in total agreement that weight loss wasn't always as simple as lifestyle choices. "WeightWatchers ... worked for some, like me. But not all. And for those people, we don't want them to internalize that as a moral failing," she said.

Sistani also made a point of acknowledging the role WeightWatchers had played in the fat shaming of stars and regular people alike. "Unknowingly, we introduced the shame also for people who, diet and exercise, alone, was not enough," she said, vowing that the company would do better going forward. "Dr. Maya Angelou said, 'Do the best you can, until you know better, and when you know better, do better.' We know better, now."

Ultimately, Winfrey's exit from WeightWatchers came down to her decision not to seem as though she was profiting out of endorsing a specific medication. We're sure the company would have preferred for her to stay on (she did joke on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that some people had cried when she left), but at the end of the day, there really is no drama.