Oprah Winfrey Has Regrets About Pushing ‘Diet Culture’

Oprah Winfrey is taking accountability for her past promotion of "diet culture" and unhealthy methods of weight loss. The TV mogul acknowledged she had been a "major contributor" and "steadfast participant" in diet culture during the May 9 Making The Shift: A New Way to Think About Weight virtual event in partnership with WeightWatchers.

"I want to acknowledge that I have been a steadfast participant in this diet culture," Winfrey said during the event. "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."

The 70-year-old media personality also said that a controversial 1988 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show in which she brought out a wagon of 67 lbs. of animal fat to showcase her weight loss from a liquid diet was "one of [her] biggest regrets." She explained, "It sent a message that starving yourself with a liquid diet set a standard for people watching that I nor anybody could uphold."

After struggling with her own weight while living life in the spotlight, Winfrey said, "That wagon of fat moment was set into motion after years and years of thinking that my struggle with my weight was my fault. And it has taken me even up until last week to process the shame that I felt privately, as my very public yo-yo diet moments became a national joke."

In December, Winfrey shared that she had been using a weight loss medication as WeightWatchers began selling a new membership for people taking weight loss medications like Ozempic. In February, Winfrey announced she was stepping down from the WeightWatchers board of directors after nine years, pledging to donate the 10% stake she owned in the group to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

She told Jimmy Kimmel at the time that she stepped down due in part to her involvement in An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution, which was released in last month. "I decided that because this special was really important to me and I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I wanted," said Winfrey at the time. "I did not want to have the appearance of any conflict of interest."