"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Increasing interest in weight reduction drugs despite costs and uncomfortable side effects

May 5, 2023 — Aryn Thirp, a 35-year-old mother and blogger from South Jordan, UT, knew something had to vary last yr when she saw the numbers in her lab results: Her cholesterol and Triglycerides, a variety of fat present in the blood, were each twice as high as they need to have been.

Thirp suffers from a hormonal imbalance brought on by polycystic ovary syndrome, which is why other attempts at weight reduction have been ineffective.

“I thought, 'OK, this is it. I'll try it,'” she said. “These labs really made me panic.”

In April 2022, Thirp began taking a weight-loss injection called Wegovy, which incorporates the identical lively ingredient as Ozempic. Thanks to social media and celebrity endorsements, the drug has gone from obscurity to popularity. When she stopped the injections in February, her cholesterol had dropped by 188 points and her triglycerides by 186 points, and he or she had lost 78 kilos.

Thirp is one among a growing variety of people who find themselves getting anti-obesity injections. Interest in these treatments is rapidly increasing amongst individuals with obesity, although the general public was not aware of them just a couple of months ago, in line with a brand new survey by the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) and the telemedicine company Ro.

Two-thirds (68%) of individuals with obesity surveyed had heard of not less than one drug in the identical class as Ozempic and 60% were interested by treatment.

“This is the first time we've had the opportunity to examine attitudes toward anti-obesity drugs,” said Dr. Beverly Tchang, an endocrinologist and assistant professor of medication at Weill Cornell Medicine who also serves as an RO advisor. “We've found that people are very open to using them, especially after trying other methods. It's a new toolkit that can be offered.”

Of the 1,022 participants, 53% reported a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. (BMI relies in your height and weight. It is one method to determine for those who are at a healthy weight since it indicates how healthy your weight is in comparison with your height. A BMI of 30 or more is taken into account obese.)

Thirty-six percent of participants living with obesity said they'd work two jobs to afford weight reduction medication, and 59 percent said they'd be willing to take medication for all times to take care of their ideal weight.

The lively ingredient in Ozempic, semaglutide, mimics the function of a natural hormone called glucagon-like peptide, or GLP-1which creates a sense of satiety. The drug was originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes, but was later approved for the treatment of obesity under the brand name Wegovy in barely different dosages.

Of participants interested by GLP-1 drugs, 95% have tried to shed weight not less than once prior to now five years, 35% have tried five to 10 times, and 34% have tried 10 times or more.

“There are people who are frustrated and have had no choice but to change their lifestyle and have surgery,” Tchang said.

However, the drugs even have potential uncomfortable side effects, which concerns 31% of respondents interested by GLP-1 drugs. (Thirp, a mother of 4, suffered from severe fatigue that forced her to lie down every hour.)

They are also very expensive and are sometimes not covered by insurance. 32 percent of respondents said they were unsure whether their insurance would cover the prices and 26 percent said they were too expensive.

Over the course of her treatment, Thirp spent over $8,000 on the injections, none of which was covered by insurance, although she suffered from a medical condition that caused weight gain.

Ethan Lazarus, MD, past president of the Obesity Medicine Association and an obesity physician in Greenwood Village, Colorado, said GLP-1 agonists suppress hunger in a way that's comparable to wearing headphones next to a screaming child on an airplane.

“They just don't have an appetite,” Lazarus said. “Or they have a craving for protein.”

The drugs could also help destigmatize obesity by shedding light on the processes underlying hunger, shifting the discussion from blame to biology, Lazarus said – something he believes is urgently needed in medicine.

Discrimination in healthcare was also highlighted within the survey. One-third of participants felt judged by healthcare providers based on their weight. 49 percent said they'd been teased, treated unfairly or discriminated against within the healthcare system.

“Doctors don't accept that obesity is a disease and continue to believe that it is a guilty disease caused by eating too much and not exercising enough,” Lazarus said. “I think that is changing with the acceptance that it is a disease with a hormonal cause.”