The Hamilton Spectator

What Oprah got right and wrong


Oprah Winfrey returned to television last week to host “An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution” on ABC. The majority of the hour-long special focuses on how drugs such as Ozempic have impacted the world of weight management.

The media has harped on Oprah’s weight for decades. In the special, she speaks to the very painful impact of the negative attention (bullying) she’s been subjected to, and the personal challenges she’s faced trying to lose weight and maintain the loss.

I’ll be the first to say that Oprah is an incredible and powerful force — I’ve been watching her since I was a little girl, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. And I can empathize with her challenges: I have been battling obesity for my entire adult life. I’ve been on Weight Watchers, Noom and calorie tracking apps, and have lost and gained too many times to count. In 2023, I finally got my hands on a drug that helped me lose weight.

Oprah, who said she works with the Cleveland Clinic, claims medication has been the key to finally losing weight and keeping it off.

I appreciate the fact Oprah and her guests clarified that obesity is a disease or chronic condition that cannot be “dieted away.” It was powerful to see medical profession­als on her stage validating the fact obesity is not indicative of laziness or some type of character flaw. It needs to be said. One day, I hope that message will be embraced by the general public.

As someone who has taken medication to lose weight, I also appreciate­d the attempt to provide informatio­n about what the drugs actually do, and how they’ve been empowering women and men around the world to “quiet the food noise” and focus on healthy living. Oprah and her guests were quick to clarify that medication is just one part of a healthy lifestyle; good nutrition and being active are also critical.

But I felt the special skimmed the surface and veered toward becoming overly promotiona­l. Representa­tives from Novo Nordisk, which manufactur­es Ozempic and Wegovy, and Eli Lilly, which manufactur­es Mounjaro, were given the floor at one point.

One guest spoke briefly about side-effects, but it would have been helpful to take a deeper look at the potential side-effects and caution that these meds aren’t for everyone.

At certain points, it felt like the special specifical­ly avoided topics that would put the makers of these drugs in the hot seat. There was no discussion about their misuse. It’s not just celebritie­s who are using these drugs when they don’t need them — a recent Toronto Star investigat­ion found it was a little too easy to get an Ozempic prescripti­on.

I also wish someone had said that being fat doesn’t mean you’re inherently unhealthy. There are plenty of healthy fat people who live active lifestyles.

As for me, I’m no longer taking Ozempic for a few reasons — mainly because my health insurance provider stopped covering it. While it’s time insurance covered such medication­s, these are steeply priced drugs that are making a lot of people on Oprah’s stage very rich. I wish someone had mentioned that this option is inaccessib­le to many who simply can’t afford it.

 ?? KEVIN WINTER GETTY IMAGES ?? Oprah Winfrey said that medication has been the key to losing weight and keeping it off.
KEVIN WINTER GETTY IMAGES Oprah Winfrey said that medication has been the key to losing weight and keeping it off.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada