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Oprah’s ABC Weight-Loss Special Was An Hour Long Infomercial For Big Pharma

Oprah
Image CreditABC / YouTube

America’s most famous dieter held a 60-minute infomercial for Big Pharma’s lucrative injections leading the latest weight-loss craze.

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Oprah Winfrey returned to ABC Monday night to host an hour-long special on “Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution.” What aired was a 60-minute infomercial for Big Pharma’s lucrative injections to capitalize on the latest weight-loss craze.

“I wanted to do this special for the more than one hundred million people in the United States and the over one billion people around the world who are living with obesity,” Winfrey opened the program. “I come to this conversation in the hope that we can start releasing the stigma and the shame and the judgment, to stop shaming other people for being overweight or how they choose to lose or not lose weight.”

What ensued was a corporate-sponsored program obviously designed to glorify the medical establishment’s new Type 2 diabetes medications being used off-label to induce weight loss. Winfrey’s first guest was a suburban mother named Amy Kane on the outskirts of Chicago who lost 160 pounds on one such drug — Mounjaro — following a debilitating food addiction developed to cope with the stress of Covid lockdowns.

“I just turned to food, I didn’t care, I was at my highest weight, it was about 300 pounds, and then the inevitable happened: I was diagnosed with diabetes,” said Kane. “My labs and blood work were scary.”

After Kane lost more than half her weight on Mounjaro, she shed “tears of joy” on Winfrey’s program, talking about her labs and blood now in “complete, normal range.”

“In losing, you have now gained so much in terms of your health,” Winfrey explained.

Lavishing praise on Mounjaro, Kane spoke about the treatment as though the weight-loss injections were miracle solutions like how they’ve been marketed on television. Novo Nordisk, the Danish company behind another popular weight-loss drug similar to Mounjaro called Ozempic, has marketed the injections by replacing “magic” in the band Pilot’s 1975 hit with “Ozempic.” The television jingle — “Oh! Oh! Oh! Ozempic!” — has become the melody of Novo Nordisk selling the now infamous treatment that has finally broken the barriers of obesity with a pharmaceutical intervention.

“All of a sudden, I took this medication, and I felt like I was freed,” Kane explained.

The pharmaceutical companies behind the drugs have spent tens of millions of dollars on television advertisements, targeting networks like Disney-owned ABC, to convince Americans they should expect the same results. Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, both of which had executives featured on the Winfrey special, have spent heavily on ads aired by ABC, the amount of which was not disclosed in the hour-long special.

Winfrey’s Corporate Guests

Winfrey went on to feature expert testimony from physicians who’ve consulted for the corporate pharmaceutical giants, which are now branding their medications as magic elixirs that can cure America’s number one health crisis. Drs. Amanda Velaquez and W. Scott Butsch went on the show to explain how the weight-loss injections work and relax concerns about the side effects. To ABC’s credit, Winfrey disclosed the doctors’ work for the drug companies on air as they aimed to recalibrate obesity as a disease requiring a pharmaceutical fix rather than a condition of negligent lifestyles.

“It’s not a matter of willpower,” Butsch said plainly.

“Do you have to be on it for the rest of your life?” Winfrey asked. Velaquez was honest.

“Yeah, the data would support that,” Velaquez responded. “We have good trials showing that when these patients stopped the medication, the disease comes back.”

In other words, the new weight loss drugs are permanent treatments for a preventable problem that already has a cure.

The pair of medical experts dismissed concerns about the medications’ side effects as sensationalized. After one patient described coming off the drugs following a four-month stint that culminated in vomiting blood at the emergency room, Dr. Velaquez said the side effects have “gotten overhyped.”

“Medicines have side effects, but the important part is that they’re mild to moderate,” Velaquez explained.

The injections, however, have also reportedly led to a spike in emergency room visits with patients suffering from blurred vision, pancreatitis, malnutrition, and drooping faces. A name has even been given to the latter: “Ozempic Face.” A study from last fall also found significant risks of the new weight-loss drugs associated with pancreatitis, bowel obstruction, and gastroparesis. Patients, meanwhile, have been found to lose muscle in addition to fat. Losing this important metabolic tissue, however, was a lost topic of conversation on Winfrey’s corporatized special, which ended with representatives from the drug companies being airtime. Both were eager to recharacterize obesity as a disease requiring their medications to fix rather than a preventable condition curable by proper diet and exercise.

“I’ll say it over and over again as someone who still, myself, struggles with excess weight and obesity, said Negelle Morris, a senior vice president at Novo Nordisk. “I have to remind myself constantly this is not a personal failing.”

“People are really understanding that this is a disease,” said Rhonda Pacheco of Eli Lilly.

Obesity Is A Symptom, Not A Disease

Obesity is only a “disease” among medical experts eager to capitalize on insurance plans and patients equally as eager to outsource shame on a condition redefined as an inevitable characteristic. The American Medical Association (AMA) officially declared obesity a disease in 2013. Obesity, however, is best understood as a symptom of severe insulin resistance caused by a high-carb diet promoted by public health authorities for decades.

Fat storage is based on complex interactions between hormones and enzymes, determined by individual metabolism shaped by everyday lifestyle habits. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 42 percent of Americans are categorically obese. More than one billion people alive today are categorically obese.

“Obesity now greater risk to global health than hunger,” ran an early March headline from the Telegraph.

The culprit cause of runaway obesity, however, can be traced through our history of living with a toxic diet following the industrialization of the modern food supply. Obesity emerged as an epidemic in Western countries in the 1980s, roughly 20 years after the American Heart Association (AHA) officially endorsed low-fat diet guidelines based on discredited science. The 1950s also saw significant advancements in the hyper-processing of the American food supply, such as the invention of high-fructose corn syrup, which injected sugar into nearly everything.

American sugar consumption jumped more than 30 percent from the late 1970s. Over time, this heavy carb load has driven insulin resistance as our cells grow increasingly unable to manage the steady stream of concentrated sugar in our modern diet. As a result, our bodies got fatter, while Americans remain distracted by a broken model of calorie counting that has left generations of dieters understandably frustrated.

On the Monday night program, Winfrey spoke of calorie counting, the formula for weight loss espoused by Weight Watchers for years. “I was counting those points, and I said, ‘This is it!'” Winfrey explained but said she experienced weight fluctuations until she began taking the weight loss drugs, as she revealed in a December interview with People Magazine.

“I’m absolutely done with the shaming from other people and particularly myself,” Winfrey told the paper.


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