Trend: A Wellness Check for Weight Loss Drugs in 2024

Week of Feb 21st, 2024

The Race Is on to Stop Ozempic Muscle LossThe New York Times, February 8, 2024 
A great overview of how fitness brands, nutrition startups, and drugmakers all want to solve a common issue with weight loss drugs: significant muscle loss that can happen. Luxury gyms are offering strength-training programs specifically marketed toward people taking these medications, promising to help clients “optimize their outcomes.” Nutritionists and meal-delivery services are creating plans to help patients pack in enough protein. And drug companies, including Eli Lilly, maker of Mounjaro and Zepbound, are racing to develop combination pharma treatments that prevent muscle loss. 

Can Fitness Programs Help Ozempic Users Keep Their Muscle?Athletech News, January 24, 2024
If 2023 was the year of Ozempic and rapid weight loss, 2024 is shaping up to be the year of safeguarding lean muscle mass.” Covers examples in this emerging new market, including Noom’s new program with FitOn, Obe Fitness’s program with Found, and supplement retailers rolling out weight loss supplements intended to maintain lean muscle mass. 

Ozempic Can’t Fix the Obesity CrisisTIME, November, 2023 
A renowned obesity expert at Harvard University and a research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital argue that while the new GLP-1s have been hailed as the “silver bullet” for the obesity crisis, it’s not that simple: obesity has manifold different causes, clinical presentations, and responses to treatment (including to the new drugs). Covers everything from how the reductionist approach to the diagnostic criteria for obesity (a BMI of 30 or over) excludes diverse populations and how not everyone on the new drugs loses a significant amount of weight. Argues that we must celebrate GLP-1s, but as part of a comprehensive, individualized, compassionate approach to treating obesity—and one that must focus on improving overall health and wellbeing.  

Weight-loss Drugs Aren’t a Magic Bullet. Lifestyle Changes Are Key to Lasting HealthNPR, February 12, 2024 
This doctor argues that while the new drugs have impressive scientific evidence, we need to recognize their limitations: from long-term safety data and potential side effects, to their high prices which dramatically exacerbate inequity in care, to how they don’t address root causes of America’s obesity crisis, such as ultra-processed, calorie-dense foods and our terrible levels of inactivity. After all, they’re solutions from a pharma industry that always benefits when we’re unwell. We cannot forget lifestyle medicine she argues, a burgeoning field focusing on prevention of chronic disease through healthy habits: the new drugs and lifestyle medicine need to work together. And we must finally tackle our environments and create ones that make healthy choices the default, less-expensive option, as we digest the limits of willpower.  

Older People Are About to Lose a Lot of Weight (That Can Be a Problem)The Atlantic, February 7, 2024 
People over 65 make up a sizable portion of Americans on GLP-1 drugs. (And that will be true globally.) That might be trouble. 

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