Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey, seen here looking svelte in a sparkling Louis Vuitton dress she wore to the Golden Globe Awards, is stepping down from the Board of Directors at WeightWatchers. Photo: Saskia Lawaks/Oprah Winfrey/Instagram Oprah Winfrey/Instagram/

Oprah Winfrey "has decided not to stand for re-election" at WeightWatchers' upcoming annual meeting of shareholders in May 2024, the company announced on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

The former TV host served on the company's Board of Directors since 2015. But she is looking forward "to continuing to advise and collaborate with WeightWatchers and CEO Sima Sistani in elevating the conversation around recognising obesity as a chronic condition, working to reduce stigma, and advocating for health equity".

She said in a statement posted on WeightWatchers' website: "Weight Health is a critically important topic and one that needs to be addressed at a broader scale. I plan to participate in a number of public forums and events where I will be a vocal advocate in advancing this conversation."

In May, Winfrey and WeightWatchers will host an event on Weight Health which will "feature industry experts coming together to un-shame our relationship with weight".

Along with the announcement, Winfrey said that she has decided to donate all of her WW stock to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), an organisation which she has been a long-time supporter of and is proud to continue supporting.

In response, the Board of Directors of WeightWatchers said that it "is supportive of Ms. Winfrey's proposal to donate all of her WW stock to the NMAAHC during the Company's upcoming trading window in March 2024".

The 70-year-old "is making the donation to support the NMAAHC's goal to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans and to eliminate any perceived conflict of interest around her taking weight loss medications," the Board said in a statement. Winfrey also "intends to donate the proceeds from any future exercises of her WW stock options to NMAAHC".

Board chairman Thilo Semmelbauer praised Winfrey for being an "inspiring presence and passionate advocate" for the company's members. She has provided "critical insights and counsel that has helped shape WeightWatchers over these last 8 years".

On behalf of the Board, Semmelbauer shared his gratitude for "her energy, dedication, and for continuing to play a role as collaborator and thought partner going forward."

"What I know for sure, we will dearly miss her presence on the Board," he said.

Winfrey's departure comes after she admitted to taking medication to aid with her weight loss on top of exercise and proper diet in an interview with People in December last year. She did not divulge its name but said it is a "medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier".

She has struggled with her weight yo-yoing for 25 years and is done being ridiculed and shamed over her body.

She told the magazine: "It was public sport to make fun of me for 25 years. I have been blamed and shamed, and I blamed and shamed myself."

Winfrey said of the medicine: "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 did not name the drug she has used, but the injectible Ozempic has been making the rounds among weight loss conversations over the past year. It is a drug used to manage blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes patients and is known to aid with the feeling of fullness.

But it is not just the medication. She said she has also adapted a healthier lifestyle that encouraged her to "live a more vital and vibrant life". Winfrey also acknowledged the buzz surrounding her weight loss saying: "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."