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  • Paragon Health Services

The Weight Could Be Over

It has been acknowledged by medical professionals for decades now that body mass index (BMI) is often a reliable indicator of overall health. For obese Americans, or about 42 percent of the country's adults, it's more than a matter of inconvenience. Approaches to combating obesity and excess weight gain have been a combination of lifestyle changes and medical interventions ranging from drugs to bariatric surgery. But recent research has led to what could be the first true breakthrough in treating these patients with medication.

Most of the drugs--brands such as Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus--have the active ingredient semaglutide. This synthetic hormone produces the effects of the naturally occurring glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor. The end effect is to promote satiety and decrease the amount of calories consumed. Others such as Mounjaro act like hormones in the gut to control blood sugar and insulin release, helping to lower blood sugar levels. The results can vary but notable weight loss has been noted in enough patients so far to cause quite a stir.

All physicians prescribing the medications recommend them in conjunction with diet and exercise changes. The drugs aren't magic pills but can help greatly for those truly committed to weight loss.

For many, the hang up is the cost. As with many pioneering medications, the price at the beginning is steep and insurers are reluctant to provide coverage. As a result, a drug like Wegovy can cost more than $13,000 per year, a prohibitive sum for most Americans. As more research is done, however, and the effectiveness is tracked, the costs should go down and more health insurance companies will likely change their coverage policies.

The downstream health effects of weight loss are too beneficial to ignore and the cost savings will come into play for patients and insurers alike. We will keep an eye on this space. The weight-loss drug revolution may just be beginning.

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