Oprah Winfrey steps down from WeightWatchers’ board of directors

The media mogul will also donate her shares in the company to the National Museum of African American History and Culture following news that she has been taking medically prescribed weight loss drugs for years.

Oprah Winfrey has stepped down from WeightWatchers’ board of directors in light of news that she has been taking weight loss drugs for years amid health complications.

According to People, the 70-year-old media magnate declared she will not run for reelection at WeightWatchers’ annual shareholder meeting in May. She joined the company in August 2015 and has since amassed a 10% stake.

WeightWatchers shared in a regulatory statement that Winfrey’s choice wasn’t due to a disagreement or “any matter relating to the company’s operations, policies or practices,” adding that it will “dearly miss her presence” on the board.

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Oprah Winfrey attends the premiere of “The Color Purple” at the Academy Museum on Dec. 6, 2023, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Variety via Getty Images)

“Oprah has been an inspiring presence and passionate advocate for our members, providing critical insights and counsel that has helped shape WeightWatchers over these last 8 years,” said Thilo Semmelbauer, board chairman. “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.”

Winfrey said she intends to donate all of her shares in the company to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, noting that she has long supported the organization and is “proud to continue my support.”

WeightWatchers declared its support for Winfrey’s decision, asserting that her contribution will help NMAAHC achieve its mission of highlighting the contributions of African-Americans while removing any potential conflicts of interest related to her use of weight loss drugs.

In December, Winfrey told People that she realized she had been blaming herself for years for being overweight, a condition that “no amount of willpower is going to control.” She described obesity as an illness and claimed that the brain is to blame.

After reconciling the scientific evidence, Winfrey claimed to have “released my own shame about it” and sought advice from her physician, who subsequently recommended a prescription for weight loss drugs.

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Winfrey said at the time that having a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier “feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift, and not something to hide behind and once again be ridiculed for.”

While she declined to disclose which drugs she’s been taking, Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro are a few that have grown in popularity among people looking to lose weight.

However, she emphasized that it hasn’t been a magic bullet or a stand-alone fix, stating that if she isn’t exercising and being vigilant of other factors, then “it doesn’t work for me.”

“Weight health is a critically important topic and one that needs to be addressed at a broader scale,” Winfrey said, People reported. “I plan to participate in a number of public forums and events where I will be a vocal advocate in advancing this conversation.”

“I look forward to continuing to advise and collaborate with WeightWatchers and CEO Sima Sistani in elevating the conversation around recognizing obesity as a chronic condition, working to reduce stigma, and advocating for health equity,” she added.

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