LOS ANGELES - OCT 27: Oprah Winfrey at the 2023 AFI Fest - Maxine's Baby: The Tyler Perry Story at the TCL Chinese Theater IMAX on October 27, 2023 in Los Angeles, CA

For years, Oprah Winfrey has been a prominent spokesperson and board executive for the weight-loss company Weight Watchers — but her partnership with the company is now ending after a major recent admission.

The 70-year-old media mogul and and talk show host acquired a 10% stake in Weight Watchers, now renamed WW, in 2015, becoming its spokesperson and joining the board of directors.

Oprah helped boost the company’s profile and sent stocks immediately soaring. For years, viewers have seen Oprah promote the company in commercials, promising that weight loss was possible (without even giving up bread!)

But the high-profile partnership between Oprah and WW is coming to an end after nearly a decade — after Oprah revealed her weight loss journey involved more than diet control.

Oprah: uses weight-loss medication

In December, Oprah told People that she has used an unspecified weight loss drug. “I realized I’d been blaming myself all these years for being overweight, and I have a predisposition that no amount of willpower is going to control,” she told the outlet. “Obesity is a disease. It’s not about willpower — it’s about the brain.”

She said that she “released her own shame” about weight-loss medication and her doctor wrote her a prescription.

“I now use it as I feel I need it, as a tool to manage not yo-yoing,” she told People. “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. I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself.”

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The revelation comes as prescription anti-obesity medications like Ozempic have been gaining popularity and widespread use.

Oprah’s admission was met with mixed reaction from fans: some praised her for her candidness about the topic, while others said she was a hypocrite after years of promoting diet programs. (Oprah told People that she still used the Weight Watchers point system in her daily weight regimen.)

Parting ways with Weight Watchers

Two months after this announcement, Oprah announced she was stepping away from Weight Watchers. In a company release, WW announced that Oprah would not stand for re-election to their Board of Directors, and would also be donating her shares to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

According to the release, the Board of Directors of Weight Watchers is “supportive” of her decision to donate the shares, and that Oprah would continue to “advise and collaborate” with the company, and she would host events on weight health.

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

“Oprah has been an inspiring presence and passionate advocate for our members, providing critical insights and counsel that has helped shape Weight Watchers over these last 8 years,” said Thilo Semmelbauer, Chairman of the Board. “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. What I know for sure, we will dearly miss her presence on the Board.”

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 14: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 29th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 14, 2024 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)

Stocks plummet

But Oprah’s departure from the board had immediate ramifications for the company: according to CNN Business, Weight Watchers shares plunged 25% Thursday and are down nearly 70%.

It marks a delicate moment for the company, which has had to adjust to a shifting weight loss culture and increased competition from drugs like Ozempic — and will now have to do without its most famous spokesperson.

Oprah has been such a prominent spokesperson for Weight Watchers over the years that this feels like the end of an era, but it’s also important for people to be honest about their weight loss journeys.

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