Published on November 13, 2023, 12:59 am
Obesity is a pressing issue in the United States, affecting almost 42% of American adults, as stated by the CDC. The consequences of obesity are serious and can lead to various health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and even severe outcomes from COVID-19. Poor mental health is also associated with obesity.
The CDC recognizes that obesity is a complex disease influenced by multiple factors including eating patterns, physical activity levels, sleep routines, genetics, and certain medications. To effectively address this problem and achieve weight loss, it’s important to consider the underlying social determinants of health such as access to healthcare, affordable and nutritious food options, and safe spaces for physical activity.
Weight loss is often seen as a straightforward equation of burning more calories than you consume while staying physically active. However, many overweight and obese individuals find it incredibly challenging to lose weight and keep it off.
A study conducted by Weintraub et al., published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism on August 18th, 2023, highlights the difficulty of achieving long-term weight loss with previously used drugs. The study revealed that significant long-term weight loss beyond four years was achievable for only 40% of patients who maintained their weight loss. Surgical procedures can result in weight loss but they carry invasive risks especially for those with severe obesity.
Furthermore, an editorial published in Nature Medicine on October 16th, 2023 emphasizes that weight loss through drugs or lifestyle interventions often leads to a portion of the lost weight being lean muscle. Unfortunately, the regained weight tends to be primarily fat. This cycle of losing and gaining weight repeatedly can lead to problems commonly associated with aging unless steps such as exercise and possibly protein supplementation are taken.
Recently, researchers have unintentionally discovered that some diabetes drugs could result in weight loss. However, they are unsure about how these drugs work in promoting weight loss, how long their effects last, and their potential long-term side effects. For more information on the latest research and the newest injectable weight loss drugs with once-a-week dosing, an article by Berthold from the University of California, San Francisco published on September 11th, 2023 provides valuable insights.
Berthold raises the question of whether these “Newest Weight Loss Drugs are Too Good to be True?” In her article, she discusses three available drugs: Wegovy, Ozempic, and Mounjaro. While Wegovy is FDA-approved for obesity, Ozempic and Mounjaro have FDA approval for diabetes but Mounjaro is seeking approval for weight management coverage. It’s worth noting that Wegovy is essentially a higher dosage version of Ozempic.
According to Powell’s report in the Harvard Gazette on July 10th, 2023, these drugs can potentially help patients lose between 10% to 22% of their body weight in the first year. They function by mimicking a hormone that slows digestion and suppresses appetite. Additionally, as mentioned by Berthold, they improve insulin secretion and aid in blood sugar control and metabolism. However, it’s important to consider that if weight loss is achieved using these drugs (as approximately 85% of people could potentially accomplish), it may be necessary to continue taking them indefinitely to maintain the results. Discontinuing usage can lead to weight regain.
It’s worth noting that these drugs are expensive – costing over $1,000 per month – and insurance coverage may not include them unless patients have diabetes. However, there is some hope for lower prices as other new weight loss drugs are expected to enter the market soon.
Although effective in promoting weight loss, these medications can come with unpleasant side effects such as nausea, constipation, diarrhea due to slowed gastric emptying. Furthermore, they may cause undesirable changes in body composition, including changes in buttocks and facial appearance resulting from rapid weight loss. The potential for intestinal blockage has led the FDA to add a warning to these drugs’ labels. Additionally, there have been reports of suicidal thoughts or behavior associated with these medications, prompting close monitoring by the FDA.
A company study on Ozempic conducted on overweight or obese adults revealed a 20% reduction in the risk of serious heart or blood vessel problems. This suggests that this drug may offer benefits beyond weight loss alone. However, further confirmation is required.
Success with these medications requires a comprehensive approach, incorporating low-calorie and low-glycemic carbohydrate intake, increased protein consumption, and an exercise program.
Considering the potency and effectiveness of these drugs, it is advisable for patients to use them under the guidance of a physician. Dr. Carl E. Bartecchi, MD, a Pueblo physician and clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine stresses the importance of medical supervision when using these medications.
In conclusion, obesity is a critical health issue in America with significant implications for individuals’ well-being. While weight loss