How Much Will Oprah Lose?

Over at WTF (, Virgie is lamenting the sad truth that Oprah Winfrey put her money where her mouth is and bought 10% of Weight Watchers. A sad truth indeed.

We all know the roller coaster Oprah has been on. I was there when she rolled that wheel barrow of 67 pounds of fat onto her stage.   

The year was 1988. Aside from the fact that I had a morbid fascination with before and afters (after all, I do live in this culture), I was about 5 years into the nondiet approach and was convinced that diets cause more problems than they solve, by far. I watched in stunned silence as Oprah carted that fat onto the stage, wondering how she was going to handle the inevitable regain. 

But then I was hit by an after shock when she claimed the weight loss made her the best that she could be. The weight loss! I was speechless.

Oprah is arguably the richest and most powerful woman in the world. A woman who rose from the depths of poverty and sexual abuse, and fought her way through a male dominated world. An African American woman who fought prejudice and discrimination, who stood up to the haters, and who shared her pain and heartache. A woman who became a beloved icon around the world. It was the weight loss that made her the best she could be?

And she’s at it yet again. 

Here’s the problem. Women have been suffering for decades, feeling not good enough, waiting until they’ve lost that weight to live their lives. Going on and off diets. Yet no research exists that shows long term success with weight loss programs (including Weight Watchers). None! But there is research to show these same programs cause food preoccupation, food cravings, binging and more. 

And now Oprah has purchased one such organization, which targets women and sells them failure and heartache. 

Oprah knows what we all know. We have seen her diet and lose for decades. She gained 90 pounds after losing that 67. When she hit 180, she said “I wake every morning hating myself.” After hitting a high of 235, she lost 85 pounds by 1994. Then she gained again. 

We see the truth about dieting in Oprah. Up/down/up/down/up/etc. I wish she would expose the truth about diets, how they hurt people and seldom, if ever, lead to long term weight loss.

I remember when Geneen Roth, who wrote Breaking Free from Emotional Eating, was on her show. I thought, “Yay, Oprah will have a chance to hear the truth. She will give up that yo-yo dieting and finally learn internally regulated eating. She will learn to like who she is, a woman who was not built to fit into size 10 Calvin Klein’s.” 

I waited for Oprah to embrace the nondiet approach.

And I waited.

I’m still waiting. 

Oprah spent 43 million dollars on Weight Watchers last week. To quote Virgie, “That’s a lot of money for an industry that yields a 95ish% failure rate.” Of course, Oprah made 45 million dollars overnight when the shares more than doubled after the partnership was announced. Maybe that was the point. 

Yes indeed. 

Meanwhile, I wonder how much weight she will lose? The only thing I lost during my 2 two trips through Weight Watchers was some self respect and about $250.