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Oprah to Tackle Ozempic Craze in ABC Special: “A Very Personal Topic For Me”

Oprah Winfrey is taking on the weight-loss injectable trend in a new primetime special.

ABC announced “An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution,” with Winfrey hosting a sit-down conversation with medical experts and patients about “the radical impact” of prescription weight-loss medications like Ozempic, Mounjaro and Wegovy. The program will mark Winfrey’s first primetime special in three years.

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“It is a very personal topic for me and for the hundreds of millions of people impacted around the globe who have for years struggled with weight and obesity,” Winfrey said in a statement. “This special will bring together medical experts, leaders in the space and people in the day-to-day struggle to talk about health equity and obesity with the intention to ultimately release the shame, judgment and stigma surrounding weight.”

Winfrey previously confirmed she was taking a weight-loss medication (without naming which) in December after appearing on the red carpet for The Color Purple sporting a trimmer figure. Last week, Winfrey confirmed she’s also stepping down from the board of directors of WW (formerly known as WeightWatchers), a position she’s held since 2015.

“I realized I’d been blaming myself all these years for being overweight, and I have a predisposition that no amount of willpower is going to control,” Winfrey previously told People. “The fact that there’s a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, 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 … I now use it as I feel I need it, as a tool to manage not yo-yoing.”

Winfrey has endured some criticism on this topic. First, she received backlash in September for suggesting taking Ozempic was “the easy way out” during a discussion with WeightWatchers CEO Sima Sistani (Winfrey said her comments were taken out of context). Then, after using one of the weight-loss drugs herself, Winfrey was criticized for continuing to be a WeightWatchers ambassador.

According to ABC, the special seeks to tackle the questions: Why is obesity designated a disease? Who are the medications really intended for? Who is eligible to receive weight-loss drugs? What should folks ask their doctors? What are the short-term and long-term side effects? What are the supply chain challenges and the impact on those with diabetes? Why is there shame surrounding taking medication, and what is the future of these medicines in our society and culture?

“We are thrilled to work with Oprah and the voices she has assembled to open a dialogue that destigmatizes and educates viewers on the important and polarizing topic of weight loss,” said Craig Erwich, president of Disney Television Group. “I can think of no one better to lead this meaningful conversation about such a critical issue that touches all of our lives.”

From the official description: “Speaking in front of a live studio audience, Oprah gathers the country’s leading medical experts and everyday people who are in the battle of one of the biggest health care crises the world has ever known. For the first time in history, new drugs could prove to be the game changer to stem the tide of people living with obesity, an epidemic which has grown exponentially since the 1970s, costing $173 billion per year in medical costs in the United States alone. Joining the conversation are medical experts including Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. W. Scott Butsch, ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News medical correspondent Dr. Darien Sutton, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Dr. Amanda Velazquez and patients from around the country who have a range of personal experiences with prescription weight loss medications, including a teenager who was among the first to take the new drugs and begs the question whether these medications should be given to minors. Oprah also invites leaders from the two global pharmaceutical companies behind these revolutionary drugs to address what this means for the 100 million Americans and over 1 billion adults worldwide living with a deadly disease.”

An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution will air Monday, March 18, on ABC (stream live online free through DirecTV) and stream on Hulu the next day.

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