Rosie O’Donnell wears many hats. You may know her as the charismatic host of the talk show that shares her name, a comedienne who’s done stand-up and specials for HBO and An Evening at the Improv, or the lesbian icon who’s publicly argued with conservative politicians and donated millions to charity. She’s even acted in movies like A League of Their Own and The Flintstones, and most recently, the crime thriller TV series American Gigolo based on the classic film.
Underneath her sheen of stardom, however, O’Donnell has been continually battling health and weight issues. Read on to find out about her struggles and how she overcame them.
Rosie O’Donnell’s weight loss journey
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O’Donnell has reportedly always wrestled with her health issues. In a 2015 interview with People magazine, she admitted that she’d been trying her whole life to lose weight. By the time she got to host the famous The Rosie O’Donnell Show at 35, she was over 200 lbs. Like all forms of obesity, this was likely due to a range of social, environmental, and biological factors, perhaps linked to the stress of juggling multiple projects. She also has type 2 diabetes.
Things came to a head in 2012 when she suffered a heart attack. Her doctors corrected her blocked artery by surgery but informed her that another heart attack could prove fatal unless she lost weight. This, alongside her desire to watch her children grow up, became her driving motivation for weight management. In 10 years, she was able to lose half her body weight.
Rosie O’Donnell’s weight loss initiatives
Rosie O’Donnell had many complementary efforts to lose weight and keep herself healthy. Here are some of the methods she’s tried.
Vertical sleeve surgery
A year after her heart attack, O’Donnell took up her medical providers’ suggestion of getting vertical sleeve surgery. This minimally invasive procedure reduces the size of your stomach to 3 or 4 ounces and consequently lessens the amount of food you eat. It also reduces your appetite for the first few months post-surgery. While this operation is associated with minimal post-operative pain, O’Donnell admitted that she was in severe discomfort for the first couple of months. Still, she managed to lose more than 60 pounds after she got the procedure.
Medical weight loss
Appetite does eventually return post-vertical sleeve surgery. O’Donnell, however, has managed to keep her hunger in check by utilizing approved medication. Indeed, medical weight loss involves taking prescription medications to address the biological factors of obesity and aid in long-term obesity treatment. Common FDA-approved medications for weight management include semaglutide, liraglutide, and naltrexone-bupropion, which are available for those with a BMI over 30 or a BMI over 27 with a qualifying health condition. O’Donnell, however, also takes tirzapetide to treat her diabetes. Since the beginning of her usage in late 2022, the medication has helped her decrease intrusive thoughts about food and lose more than 10 pounds.
O’Donnell notes that it wasn’t only the surgery or medications that helped her attain her now-healthy lifestyle. She’s also decided to reduce her intake of sugar and artificial sweeteners—a move that has many benefits, including helping your heart health, regulating your blood glucose, and aiding in weight management. She’s also incorporated exercise into her routine.
Weight loss can be challenging—but the quintessential Rosie O’Donnell has managed it with her characteristic humor and grace. With the right treatments and habits, she’s now enjoying her freer, healthier lifestyle with her family.