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What is up
A new category of expensive weight loss drugs has exploded in popularity in recent months, as celebrities, tech moguls and social media stars have testified that they were able to lose weight quickly thanks to the medication
Originally designed as a treatment for diabetes, like drugs (both brand names with the same active ingredient, semaglutide) work by mimicking a natural hormone that makes our bodies feel full. Studies have found that drugs, which are typically injected once a week, can help obese people through weight loss. and hold out.
Because of these remarkable results, some researchers believe these drugs in the ongoing effort to curb what is often called 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 conditions, including stroke, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. The medical costs of obesity in the United States have been estimated at more than $170 billion annually.
The Food and Drug Administration for chronic weight management treatment last summer. Ozempic, on the other hand, has only been approved for the treatment of diabetes. However, more and more doctors are prescribing it “off label” to address their patients’ obesity. Drugs have also become the solution for most looking to slim down. The dramatic peak of demand for Ozempic has making it difficult for some diabetics to acquire.
Why there is debate
Some obesity experts believe that drugs like Ozempic can actually help solve the obesity epidemic by providing an effective alternative to the crash diets, failed lifestyle lessons and often dangerous pharmaceutical treatments that have been in the center of weight loss efforts for so long. Many hope that these new drugs can mark a turning point where the medical field – and society in general – begins to treat obesity as a disease, rather than the result of personal shortcomings, such as a lack of strength of will.
But skeptics say there are too many hurdles for these new drugs to deliver on their promise. Those disadvantages include high cost (up to $1,300 a month out-of-pocket), spotty insurance coverage, occasionally severe side effects and the fact that people need to stay on the medication indefinitely to avoid quickly gain all the lost weight. Others fear that the treatments could be dangerous for people who are not obese and take them only to look thinner, rather than to deal with health complications caused by their weight.
Some of the harshest critics reject the basic premise that people losing weight should be a priority in the first place. They point to a growing body of research that suggests that someone’s weight, by itself, is of his health as many believe. They argue that it would be better for the nation’s health if medical experts focused on the life-threatening conditions themselves, rather than the allegedly flawed metrics behind them.
Industry experts expect this new class of drugs to become a major source of business in the coming years as more products gain approval specifically for weight loss. Some analysts believe that tirzepatide, a weight loss drug from pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, could be the if it gets FDA approval.
These new drugs could dramatically improve the overall health of the US population
“I think these medicines may be the most prescribed medicine in the history of the world in the next five to 10 years. … People should use these medicines with an appropriate diet and exercise plan, so I hesitate to suggest that it is a magic bullet, but I think that in the long run, these medicines will be very accepted – not only for weight loss, but for improving health.” – Paul Kolodzik,
Weight loss drugs allow doctors to treat obesity like any other disease
“In the United States, individuals with diseases are provided access to specialized health professionals, medical procedures and pharmaceuticals. It is not so for people with obesity. … This approach worsens the current health crisis, and it is a huge disservice to people who need treatment for a disease – obesity – that is often ignored until it is too late.” – Robert Gabbay,
Although not perfect, these drugs are significantly better than other weight loss interventions
“Right now, the field is really looking for more effectiveness, number one. People will do almost anything to lose weight. We have more than just surgery now to promote substantial weight loss. The most exciting thing is that obesity it’s on the ropes.” – John Buse, endocrinologist, at
We should not let legitimate concerns about anti-fat prejudices undermine this finding
“A righteous push against the really useless diet and exercise mantra has created a new politics of ‘fat acceptance’, especially in some leftist circles, which treats any discussion of body weight issues as a racist or homophobic discourse. Caught between diet and exercise and their enemies, the idea of effective treatments did not take shape. – Matthew Yglesias,
Medication can help curb obesity in young people before it becomes a chronic condition
“The childhood obesity epidemic is already here — and getting worse. This step toward making weight loss drugs more readily available as part of a comprehensive treatment approach for teens is a good one.” . – Lisa Jarvis,
It will be difficult for many people to keep taking these drugs in perpetuity
“You bet that this drug will be safe, affordable and available for your lifetime, it will not give you side effects and you will remain motivated to inject yourself every week throughout the period.” – Nsisong Asanga,
Until there is enough supply, these drugs should be reserved for diabetics
“Here’s the thing: diabetics need drugs like Ozempic to regulate their blood sugar. Yet the US government has not issued a guide to doctors or pharmacists on the priority of this medication for those who need to stay alive … over people who use it only for weight loss.” – Zoe Witt,
The correlation between weight and health is much more complex than most people realize
“Weight alone is not a reliable indicator of health. A lot of people who are considered overweight by current measures are metabolically healthy, and a lot of people who are not considered overweight are not.” – Taylor Andrews,
There is a great risk of abuse of these drugs by people who do not have a medical reason to take them
“I think it’s not black and white; as with many things, the question of the usefulness of these medications depends on the context. I can understand the effectiveness of the medication for those who needed it. … While they could help those who are obese or overweight, I can’t help feeling that these medications find an audience among women who are already quite slim who want to reduce even more – I’m also worried that people could take it too far.” -Lauren Clark,
It will take a change in society, not a wonder drug, to really improve the health of the nation
“There is no focus on the food deserts that require poor people, many people from marginalized communities, to live without access to fresh fruit, vegetables, products and meat. Instead, the message remains that obesity is a complex disease that can be cured through diet, through exercise, and through medical interventions on a continuous scale. … So much so that some doctors have wanted to stop treating fat as an individual failure, their remedies and approaches only reinforce the status quo.” – Evette Dionne,
The drug could reinforce some of the most dangerous attitudes about weight
“The broader cultural implications of Semaglutide injection for weight loss are far-reaching. … Weight loss is typically seen as an achievement: the result of hard work, dedication and a tremendous self-discipline. (Such attitudes, which equate body weight with a sense of morality, can only work to reinforce the psychological basis of some eating disorders.)” – John Semley,
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Illustrative photo: Jack Forbes/Yahoo News; photo: Getty Images