Oprah takes on weight stigma in the Ozempic era

Oprah Winfrey, a longtime figure in the national conversation about dieting and weight bias, devoted a prime-time special Monday to the rise of weight-loss drugs. Her goal, she said, was to start releasing the stigma and shame and judgment about weight loss and weight starting with her own, she said.

For 25 years, making fun of my weight was a national sport, Ms. Winfrey said on the show, titled An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution.

Shame has become a focal point in this conversation as new drugs like Ozempic and Mounjaro, which are widely used for weight loss, change the way people think about obesity treatment . When Ms. Winfrey revealed in December that she was taking medication to control her weight, she said she had ended decades of dieting shame.

Many patients who start taking these drugs say they’ve felt ashamed for struggling with their weight and then ashamed for taking weight-loss drugs, said Dr. Michelle Hauser, director of obesity medicine at Stanford Lifestyle and Weight Management Center, which did not participate. with the special

People are constantly getting this message, both internal bias and external bias from other people, he said. Some might think, I shouldn’t depend on drugs, I shouldn’t depend on them, he added.

Dr. Hauser tells patients to ask themselves: Would you tell someone this about their blood pressure medication?

Ms. Winfrey did not name the drug she took, but she said that after she started the drug, she understood for the first time that all these years I thought that all the people who never had to diet were just using their willpower and for some reason they were stronger than me.

Ms. Winfrey and other interviewees on the show that included doctors who have consulted with the makers of these drugs referred throughout the hour to the incessant internal chatter that some people experience around food, also called food noise. Many patients who have taken medications such as Ozempic have reported that the noise goes away with the medication.

I felt like I was freed, said Amy Kane, who joined Ms. Winfrey on stage to talk about losing 160 pounds at Mounjaro.

The drugs, however, have notable side effects: one of the patients Ms. Winfrey said she stopped taking a weight-loss drug after vomiting blood and landing in the emergency room.

Dr. Amanda Velázquez, an obesity expert at Cedars-Sinai and one of the doctors who has consulted with a weight-loss drug maker, said in the special that she believes the side effects are overblown. Outside experts have said the drugs can cause nausea, dizziness, constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux and, in severe cases, malnutrition if a person consumes too few nutrients.

Many patients have also had trouble accessing medications, some of which are used to treat diabetes in addition to obesity. Some insurers don’t cover weight-loss drugs, and drug makers have also struggled to keep up with demand. Currently, almost all doses of Wegovy are in short supply, according to a Food and Drug Administration database.

Ms. Winfrey, who said shortly before announcing her special that she would not seek re-election to her position on the Weight Watchers board, has long spoken publicly about her efforts to lose weight. In 1988, he dragged a red wagon full of fat around the stage of his television show, a symbol of the 67 kilograms he had lost while on a liquid diet. The day after that episode, she started gaining weight, Ms. Winfrey said in the new special. At one point in the show, she pointed to a 1990 TV Guide cover image that labeled her bumpy, lumpy and downright badass.

She’s been subjected to so much policing, so much surveillance, so much scrutiny about her body, said Kate Manne, an associate professor of philosophy at Cornell University and author of the book Unshrinking: How to Face Fatphobia.

After a lifetime of people speculating about her weight and often making fun of her weight when she gained it, and applauding her for losing weight, I can sympathize with her feeling that her body is a problem that has been to solve, said Dr. Manne. . But she said she was concerned about the potential harms of conversations focused so squarely on weight loss.

I worry that it will once again perpetuate the societal feeling that variations in people’s size and shape should really be addressed as a medical problem, Dr Manne said.

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Image Source : www.nytimes.com

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