The billionaire, who has been open about her weight fluctuation for decades, recently discussed her own personal experiences on her panel, Oprah Daily’s “The Life You Want Class: The State of Weight”.
She discussed the ongoing obesity and weight crisis – which affects two billion adults worldwide – with obesity specialists Dr Fatima Cody Stanford and Dr Melanie Jay; psychologist Dr Rachel Goldman; and Sima Sistani, the CEO of Weight Watchers.
During the panel, Winfrey told those in attendance: “You all know I’ve been on this journey for most of my life. My highest weight was 237 pounds. I don’t know if there is another public person whose weight struggle has been exploited as much as mine over the years.”
“You all have watched me diet and diet and diet,” she continued, before noting that it’s “a recurring thing because my body always seems to want to go back to a certain weight.”
The former talk show host went on to talk about how she noticed people would treat her differently when she weighed more than 200 pounds. “This is a world that has shamed people for being overweight forever,” she said. “And all of us who’ve lived it know that people treat you differently, they just do.”
She explained that clothes shopping was when she felt like she experienced the most judgement from others. “It’s that thing where people are like, ‘Let me show you the gloves. Would you like to look at the handbags? Because we know that there’s nothing in here for you,’” she said. “There is a condescension. There is a stigma.”
At another point during the panel, Winfrey and her panelists discussed the controversial Type 2 diabetes drug, Ozempic. The drug, also known by brand names like Wegovy and Mounjaro, consists of semaglutide and tirzepatide. It is prescribed by doctors to transform how the brain responds to appetite.
“Shouldn’t we all just be more accepting of whatever body you choose to be in? That should be your choice,” Winfrey told her fellow panelists. “Even when I first started hearing about the weight loss drugs, at the same time I was going through knee surgery, and I felt, ‘I’ve got to do this on my own.’ Because if I take the drug, that’s the easy way out.”
As someone who was “shamed in the tabloids every week about for 25 years” over claims she didn’t have “the willpower” to work on her weight, Winfrey said it was demoralising to see the weight loss drug become so popular.
Dr Stanford, an obesity medicine physician, responded by saying that because “obesity is a chronic disease,” she doesn’t use the word “willpower” when it comes to her patients’ weight loss journeys.
“It’s hard to see you ostracised in the way that you’ve been. Because this isn’t about willpower. It’s not your fault,” she explained to Winfrey.
“It’s how our bodies regulate weight and each of us is different, each of us is unique, not one is superior to another,” she continued. “We’re just different and acting on those differences and treating the differences in the heterogeneity of the population is how we’re going to actually make change in this disease.”