New perspective on weight loss drugs
In a recent column, I was critical of the sudden popularity of using diabetes drugs to lose weight. I was responding to news reports that a growing number of people are using them for casual weight loss to drop a few pounds. But too many readers felt that I was not current on the latest scientific studies in this area for the clinically obese. I am grateful for the many letters I received on this topic and want to share one with you:
I feel compelled to respond to your recent dialog with an individual writing about their friend who is successfully losing weight with the aid of GLP-1 receptor medications like Ozempic and Wegovy.
Yes, healthy eating and exercise are an important part of any lifestyle, but there are those of us who, through a mix of genetics and other factors, find ourselves 50 or even 100plus pounds overweight.
We are not like you; our weight challenges are not simply a failure to exercise proper willpower.
I lost 50 pounds on my own through healthy choices before turning to these new miracle medications after two years of not being able to lose more on my own. Once on the medication for a couple of months, the most puzzling emotion came over me: anger. This is what it feels like to be in a regular body. A body where blood sugar swings causing ravenous hunger don’t ruin our lives and ravage our bodies. Those of us who have been obese for our entire lives are just starting to feel what it’s like to be in a body like yours, and we are more than a little angry that it took this long. We are angry that we’ve been told our issues were willpower-based or simply a failure of balancing energy in with energy out.
These drugs are for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, and there is a stigma for obese non-diabetics accessing the medications — but Type 2 diabetes is where most of us are headed with untreated obesity. I do not feel one bit guilty about intervening in my obesity now instead of waiting around for Type 2 diabetes.
We already face huge barriers on accessing these medications. For instance, most insurance plans still get away with excluding coverage for obesity treatment, so we have to pay $350 to $1,350 a month out-of-pocket. But of course, if we get so sick that we become Type 2 diabetics, the drugs are covered without issue.
I ask you to encourage your readers not to pass judgment on the use of these miracle medications — at least until they have carried around an extra 100 pounds every day of their life. — Enlighten the Skinny
You state the case so clearly that you could be the spokesperson for the clinically obese who are benefiting from these medications. I very much appreciate your important comments.