ATLANTA, GA – More than 30% of Americans are overweight and more than 42% have obesity, according to government statistics. A related government survey found that almost half of US adults said they have tried to lose weight in the last 12-month period. The top two methods were exercising and eating less food, followed by consuming more fruits, vegetables and salads.
People want to lose weight to look a certain way “now,” and they also want to live longer and healthier lives, with a lower risk of developing serious health conditions in the future. Losing weight is hard, and long-term weight loss requires sustained effort, which can sometimes feel Herculean, even impossible.
A new class of medications — called glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonists, or GLP-1s — has taken the country by storm because these drugs seem to make weight loss more effortless. Their brand names have become household words, seemingly overnight. Ozempic and Wegovy have semaglutide as the active ingredient, while Mounjaro and Zepbound contain tirzepatide.
Originally developed for type 2 diabetes, medications such as semaglutide and tirzepatide work by mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1, which is released in our gut when we eat.
These drugs are pretty effective in helping many people lose weight, with semaglutide, the weight loss average can be close to 15%, and tirzepatide is reaching bariatric surgery levels of weight loss, with a weight loss close to 21%.
It’s important to note that these medications are not for everybody. The weight loss versions of semaglutide (Wegovy) and tirzepatide (Zepbound) are approved to treat people with obesity, not those looking to shed a few pounds. These medications are indicated for people diagnosed with obesity, or those with a body mass index of 30 and above, or with a BMI of 27 and above who also have a weight-related medical condition. If you haven’t been given one of these diagnoses, getting a prescription and having your health insurance cover the hefty price tag might be a challenge. Like any chronic disease, treatment requires a partnership with your doctor and a long-term strategy to help you manage your weight.