24 April 2023
Have you heard about the new weight loss drug, Mounjaro™? Well, it’s not exactly a weight loss drug. Like Ozempic, it’s a treatment for Type 2 Diabetes, and “not indicated for weight loss”. Of course, that doesn’t stop them touting its effectiveness in helping people to lose weight. The American weight loss market is now worth $75 billion annually. Yet, 36% of Americans are obese. Sounds like it’s not working so well for the consumer, but the diet industry appears to have an infinite market.
I attended a presentation on Weight Loss and Willpower this weekend at the Annual Meeting of my dietetic association. It gave me the opportunity to think on this subject, discuss with RDN colleagues and formulate my nuanced opinion. I’ve worked with bariatric patients, and I absolutely understand that there are important uses for drugs, and even surgical treatment, in certain circumstances. My concern is that these solutions are not addressing the root cause, which (in many cases) is diet (and here, I am not referring to dietary restriction, but rather our daily eating pattern). Everyone wants the shortcut, and focusing on weight alone – even with the goal of preventing or reversing associated chronic disease - ignores holistic health.
This is an actual ad I received today in a “news” email last week:
The best part of this product is that I don't ever have to work out. It does all the work for me, which saves me so much time.
Ignoring decades of evidence for the health benefits of physical activity seems short-sighted; isn't it likely that longevity will suffer? So how much time are you really saving?
So, back to weight loss drugs... I’m not ruling them out as a tool, albeit a very expensive one. This is one reason I advocate for universal access to healthy food. It’s cheaper to prevent chronic disease with food than with pharmaceuticals, surgery or even technology. Why are we clamoring for insurance companies to cover drugs rather than vegetables? Consider:
I don’t know of a single drug on the market that can claim these stats. In addition to the physical and mental health “side effects” of eating more vegetables, your meals can be more beautiful and delicious AND it’s better for the planet.