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Oprah Winfrey recently divested her role in WeightWatchers and made public her weight-loss journey, which includes usage of a weight-loss medication (although the exact medication was not disclosed). Will Oprah – as well as other celebrities who are using Ozempic or similar weight-loss medications – influence Americans looking to lose weight to try the medications? What impact will that have on weight-loss programs such as WeightWatchers or apps such as Noom?

A Look at Oprah’s Influence

Ongoing CivicScience celebrity tracking shows that 26% of U.S. adults are favorable to Oprah in 2024 – but her fandom increases significantly among people who are interested in Ozempic or similar medications for weight loss. More than 30% of those who use or have used the medications, and 37% of those who want to try the medications, are favorable to Oprah.

Additionally, 28% say they are ‘more’ likely to try a GLP-1 medication for weight loss if it is promoted by a celebrity, such as Oprah, although 31% say they are ‘less’ likely. The data indicate Oprah could influence perceptions and usage of medications such as Ozempic in both directions.

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Celebrity influence to use the medications has been perceived to be minimal in the grand scheme of things. When asked what drew current GLP-1 users to Ozempic (or to similar medications) for weight loss, just 9% cited celebrities as one of their influences, while more than 30% cited doctors or health professionals. Interestingly, weight-loss programs and apps that have begun promoting usage of the medications and supporting GLP-1 users (such as WeightWatchers and Noom) hold significant sway, impacting 21% of medication users – in fact, additional data show that 22% say they received their GLP-1 subscription through an online program. 

Interest in Diet Programs and Apps Has Grown

That said, data also suggest that it’s not time to close the book on non-pharmacological approaches to weight loss. While it’s clear that interest in weight-loss medications such as Ozempic saw a dramatic increase – from 14% in May 2023 to 20% in March 2024 – there was also a notable increase in interest in diet and meal programs such as WeightWatchers, as well as an increase in interest in weight-loss apps such as Noom. 

Many Americans may not view GLP-1 and similar medications as the one-stop-shop for weight loss. Instead they may be interested in a multifaceted approach that involves a combination of different strategies, including diet management programs. For example, 31% of respondents interested in medications are also interested in programs such as WeightWatchers. 

It’s important to note that although exercise and fitness is the single most common approach to lose weight, consumers today are less interested in exercising to obtain their weight-loss goals, and the rise of weight-loss medication usage may be at the root. Among those looking to lose weight, current Ozempic users are the least likely to be interested in exercise and fitness for weight loss.

As of now, doctors, diet and weight-loss businesses, and social media influencers seem to play the biggest roles in the consumer’s decision to adopt weight-loss medications. However, that could change as more high-profile celebrities go public about their usage of the medications; data suggest Oprah and other celebrities have a role to play in the future of weight loss, potentially influencing some toward or away from trying GLP-1 medications like Ozempic and Wegovy. Even so, Americans still show interest in traditional and alternative approaches to weight loss, which should not be overlooked.

Join the Conversation: Have you ever considered using Ozempic (semaglutide) to lose weight?

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