Oprah Winfrey announces she is resigning from WeightWatchers

Oprah Winfrey announced Thursday that she would be leaving WeightWatchers and giving away all of her stock — a move that follows the TV talk queen revealing that her recent dramatic weight loss was due to taking new weight-loss drugs.

A statement from Winfrey released by the company said the talk show host, a public face for WeightWatchers since 2015, would donate all of her shares in the company to the National Museum of African American History and Culture “to eliminate any perceived conflict of interest surrounding the use of weight-loss medications.”

According to the company’s financial statements, Winfrey’s stake in the company was estimated at more than $18 million. The company said Winfrey, 70, will continue to work with WeightWatchers as an advocate for weight health and obesity issues by “advancing the conversation around recognizing obesity as a chronic condition, working to reduce stigma and advocating for equality in health care”.

An apparent conflict between WeightWatchers, which promotes a non-medical, points-based approach to food intake, and the talk show host came in December when she said People magazine that she integrated GLP-1 medications, brands including Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s Zepbound, into her existing “holistic approach” to “regular exercise and other lifestyle modifications.”

Winfrey said she was “completely done with shaming other people and myself,” adding that she had “let go of my own shame” about using a prescription weight-loss drug.

She said her weight fluctuations had taken up “five decades of space in my brain while I was yo-yoing and feeling like, why can’t I just get over this thing, believing that willpower was my failure.” “It was a public sport to make fun of me for 25 years,” Winfrey added. “I’ve been blamed and shamed, and I’ve blamed and shamed myself.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that weight loss medications, which disrupt hunger signals from the stomach to the brain, should only be prescribed in combination with, and not as a substitute for, diet and exercise programs.

Founded in Queens, New York, in 1963, WeightWatchers has already made inroads into the clinical sector of the $142 billion weight management industry.

Last March, it announced the acquisition of Sequence, a company that, it says, “combines clinically proven medicines with access to board-certified physicians, registered dietitians, fitness coaches and a care coordinator” to achieve customers’ weight loss.

According to the FDA, 39% of Americans are obese, another 31% are overweight, and 8% are severely obese. “In general, obesity rates are higher for black and Hispanic women, for Hispanic men, in the South and Midwest, in nonmetropolitan counties, and generally increase with age,” says the board.

The market for GLP-1 drugs, which can cost $1,000 a month, will exceed $100 billion by 2030, according to JP Morgan. The total number of GLP-1 users in the US may reach 30 million by 2030 – or about 9% of the total population. .

“Increasing demand for obesity drugs will have numerous implications, boosting sectors such as biotechnology and creating headwinds for industries such as food and beverage.” the bank’s report said.