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Oprah Winfrey reveals she’s using a weight-loss drug: ‘Not about willpower’

Dec. 14, 2023, 3:50 AM AEDT / Updated Dec. 14, 2023, 8:17 AM AEDT / Source: TODAY

Oprah Winfrey poses for photos at the premiere of "The Color Purple" on Dec. 6 in Los Angeles. Christopher Polk / Variety via Getty Images

Oprah Winfrey’s striking weight loss has led to speculation she’s been using a weight-loss drug like Wegovy, or a diabetes drug like Ozempic or Mounjaro, which are known to induce weight loss. Now, the talk show host has confirmed that’s the case.

In an exclusive interview with People, published Wednesday, Winfrey credited an anti-obesity medication, in part, for her much slimmer figure, which has generated much buzz within the past week.

On Dec. 6, she attended a premiere of “The Color Purple” in Los Angeles in a form-fitting dress that flattered her waist and stomach. Some online observers commented that she looked “thinner than ever.”

Has Oprah Winfrey taken Ozempic?

Oprah confirmed that she is taking a weight-loss drug in an interview published Dec. 13, but did not confirm which medication she is taking. (Ozempic is a brand-name medication that's been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat Type 2 diabetes. Weight loss is a famous side effect.)

"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.”

Winfrey said she took the medication before Thanksgiving “because I knew I was going to have two solid weeks of eating,” she told People, and “instead of gaining eight pounds like I did last year, I gained half a pound. ... It quiets the food noise.”

Earlier this year, Winfrey revealed she once thought taking a weight-loss drug would be “the easy way out.”

“There’s a part of me that feels … I’ve got to do it the hard way. I’ve got to keep climbing the mountains. I've got to keep suffering. I’ve got to do that because otherwise I somehow cheated myself,” Winfrey, 69, said in September during a panel on Oprah Daily, called “The State of Weight.”

It was after that discussion that she changed her mind about using a weight-loss drug, Winfrey told People, calling it her "biggest aha" moment: “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.”

Frustration with her weight has “occupied five decades of space" in her brain, she noted.

Obesity is a disease, she added: "It’s not about willpower — it’s about the brain.” It was then that she “released my own shame about it,” she noted and was prescribed the weight-loss medication by her doctor.

How did Oprah lose her latest weight?

Oprah has lost her latest weight using a weight-loss drug and with healthy diet and exercising. She told People that the weight-loss medication is just part of her regimen for maintaining a healthy weight.

“I know everybody thought I was on it, but I worked so damn hard. I know that if I’m not also working out and vigilant about all the other things, it doesn’t work for me,” she said.

The talk show host added that she eats her last meal at 4 p.m., drinks a gallon of water a day and uses the WeightWatchers principles of counting points.

She's also been hiking 3 to 5 miles every day and doing a 10-mile hike on weekends, noting that she's been feeling "stronger, more fit and more alive" than she’s felt in years.

When asked about her transformation at the "The Color Purple" event, Winfrey didn’t even mention a weight-loss drug.

“It’s not one thing, it’s everything,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “I intend to keep it that way. … I was on that treadmill today.”

Can you get Ozempic from WeightWatchers?

Yes, WeightWatchers offers prescription weight-loss drugs and diabetes drugs, like Ozempic.

Winfrey has been an investor in WeightWatchers and on its board since 2015.

In 1988, Winfrey showed off her weight loss on her TV show, but soon began regaining.

In 1988, Winfrey showed off her weight loss on her TV show, but soon began regaining. "What I didn't know was that my metabolism was shot," she later wrote.AP

Oprah's history with weight loss

Winfrey has struggled with her weight for decades, famously losing 67 pounds with a liquid diet in 1988 then regaining the weight as soon as she “returned to real food,” she recalled on

In 1992, Winfrey reached 237 pounds, the most she ever weighed, she said during the “The State of Weight” panel discussion. She recalled feeling frustrated that no matter what she did, her body always wanted to go back to a certain weight.

In 2019, Winfrey revealed she was diagnosed with pre-diabetes before doing WW. She then lost 42 pounds with the program, getting her blood sugar and blood pressure back into normal ranges.

She’s now 7 pounds away from her goal weight of 160 pounds, though she told People it’s “not about the number” but about living “a more vital and vibrant life.”

As she approaches her 70th birthday, her No. 1 concern is her health, Winfrey said, noting she doesn’t live with a fear of death, but with “a conscious acknowledgment that it’s possible at any time.”

“(I) recognize what an absolute miracle it is that 70 years on, that heart’s still pumping,” she added.

Oprah Winfrey speaks during Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour at Barclays Center in New York.Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Not 'the easy way out,' doctor says

Ozempic and similar drugs work by mimicking the hormones the body releases when a person eats food, as previously reported. People have reduced appetite, and when they do eat, they feel full sooner.

Semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy, targets one hormone, known as GLP-1. Tirzepatide, the active ingredient in Mounjaro and Zepbound, targets two different hormones, GIP and GLP-1, which can lead to even greater weight loss, research shows.

Wegovy and Zepbound are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for people with obesity or those who have complications from being overweight. Ozempic and Mounjaro are approved to treat Type 2 diabetes.

The most common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and constipation. People self-inject the drugs once a week and have to keep taking them to maintain weight loss.

Patients can expect to lose 15% to 20% of their body weight, says Dr. Christopher McGowan, a gastroenterologist and obesity medicine specialist who runs a weight loss clinic in Cary, North Carolina.

Using a weight loss medication is “in no way the easy way out,” he notes.

“You still have to improve your nutrition. You still have to stay active. You have to stay quite consistent over time to achieve the results that are seen in the clinical studies,” McGowan tells

“The reason these new medications are such game changers is they are effective, and it’s quite remarkable to help someone who’s tried oftentimes for years, decades, maybe their entire adult life, to lose weight.”

New option for menopausal weight gain

It can be more difficult for people to shed pounds as they become older, and with women in particular, there may be hormonal impacts on weight during and after menopause, McGowan notes.

It’s common for the extra weight to be distributed around a woman’s waist, and because belly fat contributes to the risk of cardiovascular disease, the drugs can be good options for a patient who’s gained weight during or after menopause, he adds.

Winfrey will turn 70 in January and has previously been open about menopause's effects on her body, from brain fog to heart problems.

However, taking a weight-loss drug to combat later-in-life weight gain is not without downsides. Even though there can be benefits — such as improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, joint health and mood — aging leads to a decrease in lean muscle, which can be exacerbated by weight-loss medication, McGowan says.

To combat that, doctors recommend resistance and weight training, plus eating plenty of protein.

“That’s very important for patients on these medicines in particular because they can diminish appetite to such a degree that patients may be at risk of inadequate protein intake,” McGowan notes.

Other concerns include the long-term impact of the weight-loss drugs on people’s health, potential side effects that weren’t detected in clinical studies and whether patients will be able to stay on these medicines for years or decades, he adds.

“These are not easy fixes,” McGowan says. “But when someone’s willing to speak openly about (undergoing obesity treatment), that’s going to help others who also need help.”

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