Are New Weight Loss Drugs Really a Game Changer for Obesity?

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“The 360” shows you various perspectives on the most important stories and debates of the day.

What is going on

A new category of expensive weight loss drugs has exploded in popularity in recent months, as celebrities, tech moguls, and stars have testified on social media that the drugs helped them lose weight quickly.

Originally intended as a treatment for diabetes, medications such as semaglutide (both brand names with the same active ingredient, semaglutide) work by mimicking a naturally occurring hormone that makes our bodies feel full. Studies have shown that the drugs, which are typically injected once a week, can help people with medical obesity lose as much weight as possible and keep it off.

Because of these remarkable results, some researchers believe these drugs are contributing to the ongoing effort to curb what is often referred to as the obesity epidemic. More than qualify as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity is associated with a long list of life-threatening health problems, including stroke, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. The medical costs of obesity in the US are estimated to be more than $170 billion per year.

The Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of chronic weight management last summer. Ozempic, on the other hand, is only approved for the treatment of diabetes. Yet more and more doctors are prescribing it “off label” to address their patients’ obesity. The drugs have also reportedly become the go-to solution for slimming down. The dramatic spike in demand for Ozempic has made it difficult for some diabetics to get it.

Why there is discussion

Some obesity experts believe that drugs like Ozempic can really help solve the obesity epidemic by providing an effective alternative to the crash diets, failed lifestyle readings, and often dangerous pharmaceutical treatments that have long been at the center of weight loss efforts. Many express the hope that these new drugs could mark a turning point where the medical field – and society at large – begin to treat obesity as a disease, rather than the result of personal shortcomings, such as a lack of willpower.

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But skeptics say there are too many barriers for these new drugs to deliver on their promise. Those drawbacks include a high cost (up to $1,300 a month out of pocket), spotty insurance coverage, sometimes serious side effects, and the fact that people have to stay on the medication indefinitely to avoid quickly losing all the weight they’ve lost. have got back. Others fear the treatments could prove dangerous for people who are not obese and who use them purely to look thinner, rather than to address health complications caused by their weight.

Some of the harshest critics reject the premise that getting people to lose weight should be a priority in the first place. They point to a growing body of research suggesting that a person’s weight per se depends on their health, as many believe. They argue that it would be better for the health of the country if medical experts focused on life-threatening conditions themselves, rather than the allegedly flawed metric behind them.

What’s next

Industry experts expect this new class of drugs to become a huge source of revenue in the coming years as more products are approved specifically for weight loss. Some analysts believe that tirzepatide, a weight-loss drug from pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, could be the one if approved by the FDA.

Perspectives

OPTIMISTS

These new drugs could dramatically improve the overall health of the American population

“I think these drugs could be the most prescribed drug in the history of the world sometime in the next five to 10 years. … People should be taking these drugs with an appropriate diet and exercise plan, so I’m hesitant to suggest that it’s a panacea, but I think these drugs will be very accepted in the long run – not just for weight loss, but for improvement Health.” — Paul Kolodzik,

Weight loss drugs allow doctors to treat obesity like any other disease

“In the US, people with diseases are given access to specialized healthcare providers, medical procedures and medicines. Not so for obese people. … This approach exacerbates the current health crisis and is a huge disservice to people who need treatment for a disease – obesity – that is often ignored until it is too late.” — Robert Gabbay,

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While not perfect, these drugs are significantly better than other weight loss interventions

“Right now the field is really looking for more efficacy, number one. People will do almost anything to lose weight. We now have more than just surgery to promote substantial weight loss. The most exciting thing is that obesity is lurking.” — John Buse, endocrinologist

We must not let this breakthrough be undermined by genuine concerns about anti-fat bias

“Righteous opposition to the truly useless diet and exercise mantra has given rise to a new politics of ‘fat acceptance’, especially in certain left-wing circles, which treat any discussion of body weight issues as akin to racist or homophobic discourse. Caught between diet and exercise and its enemies, the idea of ​​effective treatments has no following. — Matthew Yglesias,

Medicines can help reduce obesity in young people before it becomes a chronic condition

“The childhood obesity epidemic is already here — and getting worse. This move to make weight loss drugs more readily available as part of a comprehensive treatment approach for teens is a good one. —Lisa Jarvis,

SKEPTICS

It will be difficult for many people to take these drugs forever

“You’re betting that this drug will be safe, affordable, available for a lifetime, give you no side effects, and keep you motivated to inject yourself every week for the entire period.” — Nsisong Asanga,

Until there is a sufficient supply, these drugs should be reserved for diabetics

“Here’s the point: diabetics need drugs like Ozempic to regulate their blood sugar. Yet the U.S. government has not issued any guidance to physicians or pharmacists about prioritizing this drug for those who need it to stay alive…over those who only use it for weight loss.” — Zoe Witt,

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The correlation between weight and health is much more complex than most people realize

“Weight alone is not a reliable indicator of health. Many people who are considered overweight by current measures are metabolically healthy, and many people who are not considered overweight are not. —Taylor Andrews,

There is a huge risk of these drugs being abused by people who have no medical reason to use them

“I think it’s not black and white; as with many things, the question of the usefulness of these drugs depends on context. I can understand the effectiveness of the medication for those who needed it. … While they may help obese or overweight people, I can’t help feeling that these drugs are finding an audience among already quite slim women who want to shrink even more – I’m also concerned that people are taking it too far. —Lauren Clark,

It takes societal change, not some panacea, to really improve the health of the nation

“There is no focus on food deserts where impoverished people, many of whom come from marginalized communities, have to live without access to fresh fruits, vegetables, produce and meat. Instead, the message remains that obesity is a complex disease that can be cured through diet, exercise, and ever-escalating medical interventions. … As much as some doctors would like to stop treating fatness as an individual failure, their remedies and their approaches simply reinforce that status quo.” — Evette Dionne,

The drugs could reinforce some of the most dangerous beliefs about weight

“The broader cultural implications of injecting Semaglutide for weight loss are themselves wide-ranging. … Losing weight is usually considered an achievement: the result of hard work, dedication and enormous self-discipline. (Such attitudes, which equate body weight with a certain sense of morality, can only work to reinforce the psychological basis of some eating disorders.)” – John Semley,

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Photo illustration: Jack TSTIME/Yahoo News; photos: Getty Images

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