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World’s richest black woman, Oprah Winfrey is resigning from Weight Watchers 

The world’s richest black woman, Oprah Winfrey worth $2.8 billion(Forbes) is set to wrap up her nearly 10-year tenure on the board of Weight Watchers, marking a significant chapter in her association with the weight management company.  

A prominent personality in the entertainment industry, Winfrey’s announcement follows her divulging that she had incorporated a weight-loss drug into her regimen. 

 Winfrey conveyed her decision to abstain from seeking reelection at the upcoming annual meeting of shareholders in May 2024 to Weight Watchers this week.

Since 2015, when she acquired a substantial 10% stake in the company, Winfrey has played a major pivotal role on the board, contributing insights and guidance to the company’s strategic direction. 

In a statement, Winfrey expressed her eagerness to continue advising and collaborating with Weight Watchers and the company’s CEO, Sima Sistani.

She highlighted her commitment to elevating discussions around recognizing obesity as a chronic condition, diminishing stigma, and advocating for health equity. 

The disclosure that Winfrey has decided to utilize a weight-loss medication came in December 2023 when she shared her realization that effective weight management extends beyond individual self-control.

Speaking to People magazine, she underscored the relief and redemption she feels about having a medically approved prescription for managing weight. 

According to Weight Watchers’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Winfrey’s agreement with the company stipulates that she will not engage in any other weight loss or weight management businesses, programs, products, or services during the term of her relationship with the company and for one year afterwards. 

Following Winfrey’s decision to step down from the board, shares of WW International, the parent company of Weight Watchers, experienced a more than 20% decline. This departure will reduce the company’s board size from 10 members to nine. 

In her commitment to supporting the causes she believes in, Winfrey has chosen to donate her interest in Weight Watchers to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

The board of directors at Weight Watchers expressed its support for Winfrey’s proposal to donate all of her WW stock to NMAAHC, emphasizing the goal to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans while eliminating any perceived conflict of interest around her use of weight-loss medications. 

Thilo Semmelbauer, the chairman of WW International, acknowledged Winfrey’s impactful presence and advocacy over the past eight years.

He thanked her for her energy, dedication, and ongoing role as a collaborator and thought partner, expressing the sentiment that she will be dearly missed on the board. 

In the context of the broader industry landscape, last year Weight Watchers made a strategic move by acquiring Sequence, a telehealth subscription service providing access to healthcare providers who can prescribe weight-loss drugs like Ozempic.  

The acquisition, valued at $106 million, aimed to enhance Weight Watchers’ offerings and cater to a wider audience seeking holistic weight management solutions.  

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