Fitness trainer Jillian Michaels has sparked controversy after calling out Oprah Winfrey for seemingly endorsing the diabetes drug Ozempic. In a video posted on Instagram, Michaels accused the media mogul of having a “financial incentive” to promote the medication.
Background on Jillian Michaels and Oprah Winfrey
Jillian Michaels, 49, is best known as a fitness trainer on the reality shows “The Biggest Loser” and “Losing It With Jillian.” She has built a fitness empire over the past two decades, selling workout DVDs, books and other products. Michaels is known for her intense, no-nonsense style of training focused on dramatic weight loss.
Oprah Winfrey, 68, is one of the most famous and influential media personalities in the world. She hosted the hugely popular “Oprah Winfrey Show” from 1986 to 2011 and founded her own television network, OWN. She has publicly struggled with her weight over the years. Recently, Winfrey revealed she lost over 35 pounds on the drug Ozempic.
Jillian Michaels’ Criticism of Oprah and Ozempic
In an Instagram video posted on January 17th, Michaels directly called out Winfrey for promoting Ozempic: “Oprah has started taking Ozempic and is now doing TikToks about feeling liberated because she lost weight and no longer needs a closet full of fat clothes…Oprah has a financial incentive to sell the narrative that you can take Ozempic and still eat whatever you want.”
Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, is an injectable diabetes medication used to improve blood sugar control. It has become popular in recent years as an “off-label” treatment for weight loss due to its appetite suppressing side effects. However, Michaels warned there could be serious long-term consequences of using the drug in this way:
“There are so many red flags around this narrative that thin always equals healthy, therefore this drug is healthy and should be celebrated…Weight and health have nothing to do with one another.” She accused the celebrities promoting Ozempic of glorifying weight stigma and sending a “nefarious message.”
Michaels predicted the Ozempic trend will eventually lead to “massive fallout,” similar to the fen-phen and ephedra scandals in the 1990s. Those products were aggressively marketed for weight loss until reports of heart damage led to lawsuits and FDA restrictions.
Reaction to Michaels’ Comments
Michaels doubled down on her criticism in subsequent interviews, even calling out Oprah by name on her Sirius XM radio show: “Shame on you Oprah!” She argued Oprah has seemingly reversed her previous anti-diet pill stance for financial reasons. “I feel like this is opposite everything you used to stand for. What are you doing?” Michaels asked.
Her inflammatory comments sparked a range of reactions:
Supporters praised Michaels for exposing the dark side of the “Ozempic craze” and the underlying message that thinness equals health. They echoed concerns about long-term safety and glorifying weight loss drugs.
Critics accused Michaels of attacking Oprah without justification and making unfair allegations about her motives. Some felt Michaels was “fat shaming” by implying Oprah only lost weight to fit into smaller clothes.
Medical experts warned about improper use of diabetes drugs for cosmetic weight loss. But they also cautioned against demonizing Ozempic, saying more research is still needed on its risks vs. benefits.
So far Oprah has not publicly responded to Michaels’ accusations. She previously credited her weight loss to diet, exercise and portion control in addition to Ozempic.
What Comes Next in the Controversy
This debate ties into several hot button issues – celebrity influence, diet culture, body positivity and more. Here’s what may happen next:
More celebrities and influencers could face scrutiny about promoting Ozempic. The drug’s manufacturer Novo Nordisk denies marketing it for weight loss purposes. But social media has amplified its use.
Regulators may intervene if improper Ozempic prescribing continues despite health warnings. Demand has overwhelmed diabetes patients who need it. There are calls to restrict off-label use.
Jillian Michaels and Oprah Winfrey could end up directly addressing this clash of perspectives. Michaels built her brand around extreme weight loss methods while Oprah has shifted towards body acceptance. Only time will tell if Oprah responds to being called out.
The Ozempic controversy ties into many complex debates – should celebrities promote drugs? Is weight always linked to health? Can messages about bodies cause harm? This latest feud between two huge names has elevated tense questions with no simple answers.
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