In this opinion piece, Nutritionist S. Keith Klein IV CN CCN criticizes Weight Watchers’ recent decision to partner with pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to offer their weight loss clients access to the diabetes medication Ozempic. Klein argues that this decision not only puts people with diabetes at risk of drug shortages but also fails to address the root causes of obesity and sends a harmful message to the weight loss community. Klein also highlights the serious side effects of Ozempic, which has not been approved by the FDA for weight loss, and draws attention to the history of weight loss drugs that have been pulled from the market due to safety concerns. Klein concludes that rather than promoting a drug with health risks, WW should focus on promoting sustainable, evidence-based approaches to weight loss.
Weight Watchers has recently made a horrible decision to partner with pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to offer their weight loss clients access to the diabetes medication Ozempic. This decision is criticized by nutritionists such as myself, who have spent their lives promoting healthy lifestyle changes instead of rigid diets and quick weight loss schemes. Their decision to do this not only puts people with diabetes at risk of drug shortages but also sends a harmful message to the weight loss community and fails to address the root causes of obesity. And when you medicalize obesity by calling it a disease, you create another profit center for the medical community to benefit from at the cost of American’s health.
Ozempic is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels. While it has effectively managed diabetes, it has serious side effects such as pancreatitis, kidney damage, and thyroid cancer. Additionally, this drug has not been approved for weight loss by the FDA, which could open up WW to lawsuits when it becomes apparent that it can cause harm to healthy people. While promoting Ozempic to their large number of weight loss clients, demand for the drug will likely increase, potentially causing even more shortages for those who need it to manage their diabetes.
It’s important to understand that just because a weight loss drug is prescribed by a doctor doesn’t mean it is healthy for you or the right choice for everyone. One example is the weight loss drug combination, fen-phen, popular in the 1990s. A mixture of fenfluramine and phentermine was prescribed to patients to aid in weight loss. Still, it was later found that the combination caused deaths and severe heart and lung complications called PPH (Primary Pulmonary Hypertension) and was eventually pulled from the market.
There have been many other examples of weight loss drugs and diet pills that doctors prescribed and later found to be harmful. These include ephedrine, linked to heart attacks and strokes, and sibutramine, associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke and withdrawn from the market. Doctors have also been known to harm weight loss patients through extreme and dangerous weight loss methods, such as prescribing very low-calorie diets and a drug known as HCG, diuretics, laxatives, and other harmful practices. These methods can lead to nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and other serious health problems.
Weight Watchers’ decision glosses over the fact that people should be wary of extreme or potentially harmful weight loss methods and prioritize their client’s overall health and well-being over rapid drug-induced weight loss. And when a drug like this is supported and endorsed by a corporation like WW, loyal clients of theirs will assume it’s effective and safe to use when it may not be.
Their decision to promote a diabetes medication to their weight loss audience also sends a concerning message. This one-size-fits-all drug approach fails to address the underlying causes of obesity, which are often multifaceted and require addressing mental health, societal factors, physical activity, and many other factors.
Let’s not forget that weight loss drugs have had an abysmal success rate and have come with severe side effects and even death. Drugs like Redux and Meridia have been pulled from the market due to safety concerns, and even the FDA-approved weight loss drugs currently available by a doctor’s prescription only result in modest short-term weight loss that does have side effects.
Rather than promoting a drug that comes with health risks and fails to address the root causes of obesity, WW should focus on doing what it always did best, promoting sustainable, evidence-based approaches rather than promoting a drug to fix its issues. Could it be that Weight Watchers’ corporate decision to encourage using Ozempic is an effort to create more profits for its shareholders? By partnering with Novo Nordisk, WW is expanding its revenue stream beyond its core business of selling weight loss programs and products.
Weight loss is not about taking a pill or medication but is a process that involves eating management skills and promoting healthy lifestyle changes, diet, and exercise. By promoting Ozempic as a weight loss solution, WW perpetuates the myth that weight loss can be cured by a quick fix rather than a long-term commitment to healthy habits. This decision is not only bad for everyone involved but it’s also motivated by profit. When quick and rapid weight loss gets mixed with a medication, greedy drug companies, doctors and a business that wants to increase profits, nothing good has ever come from it, and this time won’t be any different.
Copyright 2023 S. Keith Klein IV CN CCN
If you like this kind of information be sure to watch the documentary called Beyond Weight Loss on Amazon Prime. It’s free to watch. See below