I mentioned being impressed with Oprah stepping out in a crop top in a recent email, so naturally, people questioned how she finally lost the weight and kept it off.
Oprah Winfrey has been open about her weight-loss journey, and it appears that she has not undergone surgery specifically for this purpose. Instead, Oprah’s approach to weight loss has involved a combination of methods, including lifestyle changes and medication.
After experiencing knee surgery, Oprah began incorporating weight-loss medication into her health regimen. This decision came as a part of a broader approach to weight management that included hiking, maintaining a disciplined eating schedule (such as having her last meal at 4 p.m.), and drinking a significant amount of water daily. She serves as an investor and board member for WW (formerly WeightWatchers), which has added weight loss drugs like Wegovy to its program. Oprah has spoken about her use of weight-loss drugs, stating that obesity is a disease and not just a matter of willpower.
Understanding the huge role the prefrontal cortex plays in willpower and understanding how easily the brain can be damaged, I actually agree with her. These weight loss drugs like Wegovy, though, have a hefty price to pay, and I am not just talking about the cost. The side effects can be crippling for some who don’t have the wealth she has. I have read of people’s digestive systems becoming paralyzed, but the one that, for me, is a huge no-go is the fact that you have to be dependent on these drugs for the rest of your life!
Drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy come with a hefty price tag of at least $1,000 per month. Neither drug is covered for weight loss by most insurance plans.
2 things drive me wild about these drugs and their use right now. The medical establishment has restrictions on who these drugs can be used by. My first main issue is the fact that they’re using BMI as a standard to decide who is allowed to get these drugs but BMI, which I wrote about here, is really a useless number.
Wegovy and Ozempic are being widely prescribed for people with obesity, defined as a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or higher. However, there is concern about the indiscriminate use of these drugs based solely on BMI.
For example, take a 5’3″ Black woman. According to standard BMI charts, a BMI of 30 for her height corresponds to a weight of 170 lbs. This means she would be eligible for Wegovy if she weighed 170 lbs or higher, with no other health conditions required.
However, 170 lbs would classify her as just overweight, not obese, based on standard weight ranges. For a 5’3” Black woman, the upper end of the healthy weight range is around 140 lbs. So 170 lbs would be roughly 30 lbs over her personally recommended maximum healthy weight according to the medical charts.
These BMI charts are not based on diverse people. Here are 4 things you must know about BMI:
- Research shows that at the same BMI (body mass index), Asians and other non-white ethnic groups like Hispanics and Black people have a higher risk of developing weight-related health issues like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease compared to whites.
- For example, studies found that Asian women had over double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as white women at the same BMI. Weight gain also posed a much higher diabetes risk for Asians.
- Possible explanations include differences in body fat percentages – Asians may have 3-5% higher total body fat compared to whites of equal BMI. South Asians also tend to carry more dangerous abdominal fat.
- Genetics may play a role but environmental factors like undernutrition early in life combined with saturated fat-rich diets later seem to have a stronger influence in explaining ethnic differences in diabetes risks.
The BMI chart is based on a group of white men from Europe whose body types are very different than Black people, Black women, Black Caribbean women, people of African descent, very different. Fat mass and muscle mass is really critical when we talk about metabolic health, so if it’s only being based on a group of white men from Europe and not really taking into account metabolic health and what that looks like from different ethnic groups this feels to me to be quite dangerous. Because then you have people who don’t fit this European standard, basically, I would assume, being recommended at higher rates to get these drugs that they then have to be dependent on for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, what is not being fully addressed is some of the systemic issues going on that could be causing obesity. Stress is a huge factor in this.
Focusing solely on BMI and weight loss drugs can divert attention from addressing broader systemic health issues, such as access to healthy food, safe environments for physical activity, and the impact of stress and socio-economic factors on health.
And then secondly, what is driving obesity and morbid obesity is the fact that the U.S. government is subsidizing unhealthy foods. The foods that would help people get to a healthy weight are being artificially inflated in price because these other unhealthy foods are subsidized by the government. So now these people are struggling with obesity, and now they’re given this cost to be burdened with life-long dependence on drugs. They allow these private companies to make all this money to have these people basically stay on these drugs for the rest of their lives. And yet, people are dying to get their hands on these drugs. If folks don’t see the injustice here, I feel they’re just not paying attention.
Oprah has also emphasized the importance of an active lifestyle. She has been staying active and mentioned using a treadmill as part of her routine. She expressed that her approach to health and wellness is comprehensive, involving multiple aspects rather than relying on a single method or intervention.
Ultimately, we all have to make decisions on what makes the most sense for us but at least do it with all the facts. The companies Wegovy and Ozempic have been paying lots of money to media to get their name out there and create this frenzy. They have been buying doctors and reputable shows once known for unbiased investigative journalism.
I believe in a holistic approach to weight loss, combining physical activity, clean eating and dropping the stress. Medicine is not part of the approach because those chemicals have to be processed by the liver and kidneys and they do damage. They also affect blood flow to the brain. Their side effects are often worse than the relief you were looking for in the first place.
Be very careful, or you risk becoming a victim of the system.
While I don’t know too much about Oprah’s specific diet, I do know she utilizes intermittent fasting, which I also practice, and that she exercises regularly. However, instead of focusing solely on improving her diet and lifestyle to reach her health goals, she has opted to take medications as well.
I believe that before turning to weight loss medications that cost upwards of $1000 per month, investing that money instead into optimizing nutrition with an anti-inflammatory diet rich in whole, plant foods can not only facilitate lasting excess fat release, but also impart overall improvements in health and body function. For example, adopting a high raw vegan diet for even just half that $1000 monthly medication cost can effectively and safely promote fat loss while also enhancing energy, better digestion, mental clarity, and managing and reversing chronic conditions.
The keys are commitment to lifestyle changes like regular exercise, mindfulness around eating habits, and focusing nutrition around whole foods plant-rich diets full of antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. Nutrition-focused lifestyle measures should provide the foundation.
Evidence shows even moderate diet improvements can equal if not surpass drug-aided weight loss, with the added perk of boosting overall wellness at the same time.