Advertisement

Oprah Winfrey leaves Weight Watchers board after admitting use of weight-loss drugs

Winfrey has said she will continue to work with the company as an adviser and collaborator
Winfrey has said she will continue to work with the company as an adviser and collaborator - Frederic J Brown/AFP Photo

Oprah Winfrey is standing down from Weight Watchers after admitting she has been using weight-loss drugs.

Winfrey, who has been on the board since 2015 after buying a $43 million (£34 million) stake in the company, has said that she will not stand for re-election in May at its shareholder meeting.

Her decision to step down is in part to “eliminate any perceived conflict of interest around her taking weight-loss medications,” said the company in a press release.

The US celebrity, 70, recently came under fire after revealing that she used weight-loss drugs as a “maintenance tool”.

She did not mention what drugs she was taking, but her admission came as medication such as Ozempic has become hugely popular, presenting a challenge to traditional weight-loss plans and dieting methods.

“I now use it as I feel I need it, as a tool to manage not yo-yoing,” Winfrey told People magazine.

“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.”

Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes in 2024 and at a Weightwatchers event in 2019
Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes in 2024 and at a Weightwatchers event in 2019 - Getty Images
Oprah Winfrey in an advert for Weight Watchers
Winfrey started working with Weight Watchers nearly a decade ago

Shares plunge

Winfrey, who is one of Weight Watchers’ biggest shareholders, with a stake of about 10 per cent, said she will donate all her shares in the company to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC.

The influential talk show host has said, however, that she will continue to work with the company as an adviser and collaborator “in elevating the conversation around recognising obesity as a chronic condition”.

Shares in the company plunged by 29 per cent on Wednesday, a fresh blow for the company already struggling to compete with Ozempic and other popular weight-loss drugs such as Wegovy.

If the decline in trading holds into Thursday, the stock will hit its lowest level on record.

When Winfrey started working with Weight Watchers nearly a decade ago she joined their weight-loss programme and shared her experiences with other members. She has since been vocal about struggles with her weight.

Weight Watchers has frequently used the TV personality in marketing and advertising over the years.

Winfrey signed an agreement with the company in 2019 that stated she was not to give anyone but Weight Watchers the right to use her name, likeness and endorsement for, or in connection with, any other weight-loss or weight-loss management programmes.

This agreement was supposed to be in effect up until the company’s annual meeting in 2025 or May 31, 2025, whichever was to come earlier. It is unclear whether or not this will still stand after she steps down.