These side effects seem like a far cry from using an inhaler or undergoing professional-grade albuterol treatments, but in the opinion of the AAP, they are necessary sacrifices. “What it offers patients is even the possibility of having a near-normal body mass index,” pediatrician Claudia Fox told The Associated Press. “It’s like a whole other level of improvement.” For children under 13, pediatricians prescribe Wegovy, a drug made by Novo Nordisk, which received Food and Drug Administration clearance on Dec. 23 to be prescribed as a weight-loss drug. (Another form of the drug is prescribed to treat diabetes.) Fox told the AP that she immediately prescribed Wegovy, which costs about $1,300 a month and is often not covered by insurance, to a 12 year old patient.
The updated AAP guidelines are part of a push among researchers, doctors and scientists to complicate the way we think about obesity. In a recent segment for 60 minutes, correspondent Lesley Stahl launched into the conversation, which has plagued the United States for more than two decades. Stahl calls on experts and people with the so-called disease to offer context and perspective on how obesity has become, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a “common, serious and costly disease.” which affects 41.9% of Americans, leads to the development of several chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, strokes and several cancers, and costs the United States nearly $173 billion to treat .
Ever since the CDC declared obesity an epidemic in 1999, doctors, scientists, and researchers have been trying to figure out why Americans are taller than we’ve ever been. Many reasons have been given: In 1999, then-CDC director Jeffrey P. Koplan blamed a steady decline in physical activity, for which he offered a tiered remedy: counseling obese patients in doctors’ offices , providing healthy food choices and opportunities to exercise. in schools and workplaces, and building more sidewalks and bike lanes in urban areas.
Since then, the United States has tried everything from implementing fresher, healthier menus in elementary schools to shaming fat people to classifying obesity as a disease, but nothing has worked. actually stopped Americans from gaining weight. During the 60 minutes segment, Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, obesity physician at Mass General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School, questions the way we’ve been taught to view obesity as a disease. As she notes, it’s not about “willpower” or just “diet or exercise.” “My last patient I saw today was a 39-year-old woman who was struggling with severe obesity,” Stanford said. “She works out 5-6 times a week, regularly. She eats very little. Her brain defends a certain set point. According to Stanford, the brain controls how much food the body needs to eat and how much it it stores in the body.
She also argues that obesity is genetic: in other words, if you were born to fat parents, there’s a 50-85% chance of being fat even if you change your diet, exercise, sleep well and manage your stress. Obesity is therefore not a moral failure; it’s more complex than that, and yet Wegovy and its counterpoint, Ozempic, are touted as possible solutions to this ever-growing epidemic. Rather than just focusing on metabolism, these drugs are designed to connect the brain and stomach while suppressing appetite. They are also presented as effective drugs: Ozempic, Wegovy and other drugs prescribed for obesity are said to induce weight loss of 15 to 22% of total body weight. Most people start at 0.25 milligrams per week, and depending on each patient’s side effects, they go up to 0.5 milligrams after a month. Eventually, over time, patients go up to 2.4 milligrams, which is the highest dose with the biggest gain. The average weight loss at this level is 15-17% and a third of these patients have a 20% weight loss.
Of course, there’s a catch: once you stop taking the drug, most people gain back the weight they lost. In this way, these drugs are no different from any other diet – and they have even worse side effects. As Dr. Caroline Apovian, co-director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said. 60 minutes, side effects can range from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea to pancreatitis. There are also other side effects that haven’t been studied: Mila Clarke, who started taking Ozempic for latent autoimmune diabetes in 2021, told The Cut she started having heart symptoms within a week of taking Ozempic. “I could feel my heart beating out of my chest,” she said. “It was difficult to breathe. I was woken up in the middle of the night by these heart palpitations. And I couldn’t take it anymore. »
It’s not the first time doctors have peddled a miracle cure for obesity without considering the potential consequences. In the 1990s, as concerns about Americans’ height grew, doctors began to describe the combination drug fenfluramine (an appetite suppressant) and phentermine (a type of amphetamine), better known as fen -phen, to patients for the express purpose of helping them lose weight. The Food and Drug Administration approved fen-phen for sale and doctors began prescribing it, but in 1997, amid an increase in fen-phen users developing heart problems, including pulmonary hypertension and leaky heart valves, manufacturers Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories and Interneuron Pharmaceuticals were forced to pull their products from the shelves. Several people have died of complications from their heart conditions. Eventually, 175,000 people filed claims against Wyeth-Ayerst, and the company settled the lawsuits for about $21 billion.