Oprah Winfrey talks weight management drugs, obesity in rare TV special

FILE - Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 55th NAACP Image Awards at Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall on March 16, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

Oprah Winfrey hosted a special titled, "An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution," on Monday to discuss obesity and the growing industry of weight management medications, according to multiple reports.

Winfrey sat down with medical experts and patients during the special, saying she wanted to "start releasing the stigma and the shame and the judgment" when it comes to using weight-loss drugs such as Ozempic, Mounjaro and Wegovy, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Although Winfrey did not specify which weight-loss medication she was taking, she told People in December, "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," Winfrey said. "I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself." 

RELATED: Ozempic and other weight-loss drug use is booming. But are Americans on board? 

Winfrey added, "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. Obesity is a disease. It’s not about willpower – it's about the brain." 

The special aired on ABC and will be live-streamed on Hulu on Tuesday. 

The special comes after Winfrey resigned from the WeightWatchers board after almost 10 years to avoid a conflict of interest. 

During her appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" last week, Winfrey explained why she stepped down ahead of her upcoming special. 

"I decided [to leave the WeightWatchers board] because this special was really important to me, and I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I want to talk about," Winfrey said. "And WeightWatchers is now in the business of being a weight-health company that also administers drug medications for weight. I did not want to have the appearance of any conflict of interest." 

The media mogul said that when she resigned, she donated all of her shares to the National Museum of African American History. 

Winfrey added of her decision to leave, "So nobody can say ‘Oh, she’s doing that special, she’s making money, promoting [it],’ no, you cannot say that." 

The special was Winfrey’s first in 13 years, and comes after she revealed she was using weight-loss medication last year. 

RELATED: Ozempic side effects: FDA says drug has no link to suicide

How do Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro work?

The drugs are delivered through once-weekly injections. 

In short, the drugs help people feel fuller for longer by lowering blood sugar and slowing down digestion, leading them to eat less and lose weight. 

The drugs work by activating a hormone known as GLP-1, which is found primarily in the gut and kicks in after people eat. The hormones help regulate blood sugar by triggering the pancreas to release insulin, another hormone, and slowing the release of sugar from the liver. 

Tirzepatide (Mounjaro) also affects a second hormone, called GIP, which developers say contributes to its increased effectiveness. 

As UCHealth reports, most patients will likely need to stay on the medications in order to keep the weight off. The drugs can also have unpleasant side effects and be very costly, as no generic brands are available. 

FOX Business and Megan Ziegler contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.