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Oprah Winfrey apologizes for her ‘major' role in ‘diet culture': ‘I own what I've done'

The TV host has been candid about her health and weight throughout her career.

Oprah Winfrey
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Oprah Winfrey addressed the role she played in perpetuating diet culture over the years in a recent livestream.

Winfrey spoke to the in-person and virtual audience at the WeightWatchers “Making The Shift: A New Way to Think About Weight” livestream on Thursday, May 9 about reaching a “pivotal moment in the way we talk about and the way we think about our bodies.”

At the start of the livestream, Winfrey took a moment to speak about her own role in “diet culture” over the years.

“I want to acknowledge that I have been a steadfast participant in this diet culture through my platforms, through the magazine, through the talk show for 25 years,” Winfrey said.

She continued, adding, “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.”

Winfrey addressed one specific moment from “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1988 when she rolled a wagon of fat onto the stage, calling it one of her “biggest regrets.”

“It sent a message that starving yourself with a liquid diet and set a standard for people watching that I, nor anybody else, could uphold,” she explained. “The very next day, I began to gain the weight back. Maya Angelou always said ‘When you know better, you do better,’ so these conversations for me are an effort to do better.”

She added, “I own what I’ve done, and now I want to do better.”

After serving as a board member for WW, formerly known as WeightWatchers, since 2015, she announced in February that she would be leaving the board of directors and would not stand for re-election at the next shareholder meeting in May.

Over the decades, Winfrey has remained candid about her health, including her experience with weight loss.

Here’s what Winfrey has said about her experience with weight loss and diets over the years.

Oprah Winfrey showed her WeightWatchers results on a magazine cover

Five months after announcing that she joined the WeightWatchers board, Winfrey showed off her 26-pound weight loss in the April 2016 issue of O, sharing the cover with nine other woman to celebrate their “best body.”

In the issue, Winfrey said, “It was my idea to share the cover with other women who are on the same journey that I am.”

“My own struggles with the scale are well known,” she added. “I’ve never believed in hiding them. What I do believe in: strength in numbers.”

Oprah Winfrey vowed to walk 10,000 steps per day

Less than a year after joining WeightWatchers and becoming a spokesperson, Winfrey continued to share details around her health and her lifestyle adjustments, including her commitment to walk 10,000 steps a day.

“Sky, mountains, creeks, trees, grass, wildflowers — I just can’t seem to get enough. So I made a vow this summer to log my 10,000 steps each day and get outdoors to do it,” Winfrey told O magazine in 2016. “I’m ready for the open road. New experiences. A new way of being in my body. Feeling fit and strong.”

Oprah Winfrey discussed her struggle with balancing body acceptance and her health

In an August 2017 interview with The New York Times Magazine, Winfrey spoke about her struggle to accept her body at its current state while also maintaining a weight that wouldn’t cause additional health issues.

She explained, “For your heart to pump, pump, pump, pump, it needs the least amount of weight possible to do that.” 

“So all of the people who are saying, ‘Oh, I need to accept myself as I am’ — I can’t accept myself if I’m over 200 pounds, because it’s too much work on my heart,” she added. “It causes high blood pressure for me. It puts me at risk for diabetes, because I have diabetes in my family.”

Winfrey said that “this whole P.C. about accepting yourself as you are — you should, 100 percent,” noting that WeightWatchers helped her stay “on track” and provides “a level of consciousness and awareness” around her diet.

Oprah Winfrey shared that she began taking a weight loss drug

Winfrey is among the list of celebrities taking weight loss drugs, including Ozempic and Mounjaro.

In December 2023, Winfrey revealed in an interview with People that she had started taking a weight loss drug, though she didn’t confirm which medication.

At the time, she said she used it “as I feel I need it, as a tool to manage not yo-yoing.”

“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 explained to the outlet.

Winfrey added, “I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself.”

Oprah Winfrey shared why she started taking a weight loss drug

In a March 2024 appearance on CNN’s “King Charles,” Winfrey opened up about what led her to start taking a weight loss drug

“I couldn’t work out anymore,” Winfrey explained. “I can’t climb any faster or run any faster. I was down to eating one meal a day. There’s nothing else I can do.”

Winfrey said “there is now a sense of hope,” adding, “When I tell you how many times I have blamed myself because you think, ‘I’m smart enough to figure this out,’ and then to hear all along, it’s you fighting your brain.”

“The one thing I hope people come away with is knowing that (obesity is) a disease and it’s in the brain,” Winfrey added.

This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from Today:

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