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Oprah Winfrey apologizes for being a ‘major contributor’ to ‘diet culture’ over the past 25 years

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Oprah Winfrey took accountability for promoting unsustainable methods of weight loss over the years during a three-hour live WeightWatchers special for WeightWatchers.

“I have been a steadfast participant in this diet culture,” the legendary talk show host, 70, said Thursday. “Through my platforms, through the magazine, through the talk show for 25 years and online.

“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 continued.

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey owned up to her role in spreading diet culture. Getty Images for BET
Oprah Winfrey
The legendary talk show host admitted she was “a steadfast participant” in diet culture over the past 25 years. Oprah/Instagram
Oprah Winfrey
“I’ve been a major contributor to it,” she said during a WeightWatchers special Thursday. Getty Images for The Recording Academy

One particular moment that still haunts Winfrey was when she infamously brought out a red Radio Flyer wagon stacked with 67 pounds of fat on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

The fat on the wagon represented how much weight she had lost after going on an intense, months-long, liquid-only fast.

“I’ve shared how that famous wagon of fat moment on the ‘Oprah’ show is one of my biggest regrets,” she continued. “It sent a message that starving yourself with a liquid diet — it set a standard for people watching that I nor anybody else could uphold.”

Oprah Winfrey in bright blue
One of her “biggest regrets” is promoting a liquid-only fast. Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey fat wagon
She infamously brought out a wagon full of fat on her talk show to show viewers how much weight she had lost while on the unhealthy diet. The Oprah Winfrey Show

Winfrey was joined by actresses Rebel Wilson, Amber Riley and Busy Philipps as well as WeightWatchers CEO Sima Sistani and several doctors during the YouTube special.

The group discussed the brand’s shift from promoting dieting to becoming a weight-health company, providing medical intervention through drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy.

They explained there is no shame in getting medical help for weight loss and the importance of body positivity.

Winfrey revealed in December 2023 that she had lost 40 pounds using a weight-loss medication — despite previously calling it an “easy way out.”

Oprah Winfrey
Winfrey revealed in December 2023 that she was taking a weight-loss medication. FilmMagic
Oprah Winfrey
She told People she was tired of being constantly shamed about her weight. Getty Images

“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,” she told People at the time.

The “Color Purple” star added, “I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself.”

Two months later, the TV maven left the WeightWatchers board of directors after nearly a decade of working with the company to avoid a conflict of interest.

Oprah winfrey weight watchers
She stepped down from the WeightWatchers board soon after. Weight Watchers
Oprah Winfrey
The media mogul has been very outspoken about her support of weight-loss drugs ever since. Getty Images FOR ESSENCE

She later told Jimmy Kimmel that she wanted to host a special about prescription weight-loss medications but didn’t want her intentions to get skewed.

“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 WeightWatchers is now in the Business of being a weight Health company that also administers drug medications for weight,” she explained.

After resigning from the board, she donated all her shares to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“So nobody can say, ‘Oh, she’s doing that special, she’s making money, promoting.’ No, you cannot say that.”

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