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New Year Diet Ads: Is Oprah Credible Any More at Selling Diet Remedies?

Posted by: David Kiley on December 30, 2008


As I followed a link for a story about how diet soda can make people gain weight, I was somewhat surprised to find an ad featuring Oprah Winfrey’s somewhat slenderized face hawking an Acai berry diet, I thought…huh?

The exact wording on the ad is “Oprah’s Acai Berry diet.”

As we head into the New Year season of incessant diet ads, is it not time to ask of Oprah is remotely credible for touting weight loss?

Didn’t I just hear or read about how Oprah had gained a bunch of weight? I don’t pay much attention to Ms. Winfrey, but I do remember something about this.

Sure enough, a story from People Magazine a few weeks back reported this: “Having packed 40 pounds onto her former 160-pound self, Oprah Winfrey is declaring, “I’m mad at myself” because she’s “fallen off the wagon.” As the media mogul, 54, writes in the January issue of her O magazine hitting newsstands Tuesday (and provided in advance to the Associated Press by Winfrey’s Harpo Productions): “I’m embarrassed … I can’t believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I’m still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, ‘How did I let this happen again?”

As I can attest from a life of gaining and losing weight, people do go up and down the diet ladder. And Oprah is surely one of them. And while her experience is typical of women, and many men, why should anyone listen to her at this point endorse a particular diet? I am missing the aspirational aspect of following an Oprah diet suggestion that inevitably leads to yo-yo dieting.

I can recall that back in the 1980s Oprah’s first endorsement of a diet was Optifast. She lost something like 60 or 70 pounds. She was more gaunt than svelte. Her endorsement, though, created a two-year explosion of business around Optifast that extended to products like Medifast and a host of other liquid protein powder diets that are utterly unsustainable. Sometime after that, when Oprah had gained back the weight, she spoke very little, as I recall, about the failure of the diet. And I believe she said something about not endorsing diet regimens in future.

We all know Ms. Winfrey has a legion of people around her to keep her away from the sweets. She has schedulers, trainers, cooks, etc. But all of that apparently is not enough to manage her weight very effectively.

So, I ask again…why is she lending her image and name to a diet anything? If I was promoting a diet regimen, I might be glad to score an appearance on her show. But I’d be thinking maybe the time has passed for wanting her to actually fasten her face and endorsement to the product or system.

Reader Comments

Cari from

December 31, 2008 10:31 AM

There's of course also the chance that oprah isn't lending her name, but that people sneakily just use it. Being a very public figure has that disadvantage.


January 1, 2009 12:07 AM

as people we should realize that things happen.. i know we wounder.. goodness doesnt he/she notice when its time to stop eating.. but we have to realize our bodies are not machines and we should be healthy and not hate our bodies because of how it works.. maybe oprah's body has to be this way and we never knew how she really was treating her body so we cant say much except eat smart and dont keep inserting coins into our body because the wanna be machine that some are taking our bodies as.. will soon be out of order!!!


January 1, 2009 5:30 AM


This is truly a number one super food of are modern times from the rain forests of Brazil where so many more new medicines are being discovered all the time.
Acai berry and its many forms can only help our bodies to become healthier.


Coach B from

January 1, 2009 12:44 PM

I think it just shows how obesity is an epidemic in this country and how it affects everyone - at all socioeconomic levels. There are a lot of things out there that will work. The blessing is that you find what works for you and your body type and most important obtain the support you need to make it everlasting. Most people who have lost weight regardless of how they do it will gain it back without the proper support structures. Good Luck in 2009!

Say NO to O

January 2, 2009 2:48 PM

Oprah is no better than a sleazy, lying con-artist or snake oil salesman.

Look at the frauds she has pushed on the public. Dr. Phil, those two phony book authors.

Health Reporter Plus

January 3, 2009 10:31 AM


Acai is all the rage at the moment but some unscrupulous companies are scamming people for hidden costs in their free trials. When these free trials are taken out you are also signed up for membership and on going supplies.

Be careful


Dr. Patrick

January 5, 2009 5:41 PM

You just can't expect to eat those unhealthy foods in moderation. Eventually, 40 pounds 'sneaks' up on you. You've got to cut them out completely - the soft drinks, fast foods, or in Oprah's case probably the Linguine Alfredo straight from Italy(?). Here's a plan to cut those out - - that ironically is endorsed by 2 of Oprah's doctors.

Kimberlee Buscovick

January 7, 2009 2:39 PM

I think Opera is a normal woman who struggles like the rest of us.And like the rest of us we try something it works we pass it on to our friends.It is up to us to keep the weight off.Like many American weman she gained it back.That doesn't mean she lied.It doesn't mean she isn't a good person.It just means she is not perfect.She is just human like the rest of us.God bless.
Kimberlee Lula Georgia


January 15, 2009 10:30 PM

I find it fascinating that a woman as focused, intelligent, driven, and willed as Oprah keeps trying diet after diet. Heres a woman who has worked very hard to become successful but yet when it comes to her weight she keeps trying these fad diets and easy way out marvelous super duper diets that ultimately fail. The facts are simple. 98% of dieters fail. The only way to maintain long term healthy weight is by eating well and excercising.

George Bennett

January 18, 2009 10:45 PM

Just eat till you are 80% full

When you are served a big plate of something it is hard to turn it down, and if you hire someone to fix your food they want to please you well. Just buy what you need and if your on the go like Oprah W is all the time, it is even harder not to cave in to foods to help stress. Yes, we love to eat what mother used to make and that is not always healthy for some of us who are eating foods that are not as healthy as they used to be. We have foods that are made differently then before so it is even harder to be healthy.


August 10, 2009 12:55 AM

Oprah doesn't endorse this product. The people behind the Acai berry supplements are scammers. They also use Rachel Ray's name to sell their products. Both Oprah and Rachel Ray have stated they do not endorse these products. Oprah has stated that she has only tasted the actually acai berry one time on a show when Dr. Oz was talking about superfoods (not acai dietary supplements).

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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