What Arizonans should know about Ozempic and other weight loss trends

Contributed Photo

According to the CDC, nearly three-quarters of US adults aged 20 or older are overweight, while 42% are obese. Some experts have argued in recent years that one’s body mass index (BMI) isn’t the best way to gauge body fat, but as of writing, the CDC defines being overweight as having a BMI between 25 and 30. A BMI of 30 or higher, on the other hand, is considered obese.

Arizona is one of the top five overweight states in the US based on the percentage of overweight adults — alongside Wyoming, New Jersey, California, and Tennessee. Being overweight and obese are key risk factors for serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and chronic kidney disease. Overweight and obese people are also more at risk of all-cause mortality.

In our previous post discussing poor nutrition in households across the country during the pandemic, we highlighted that 22% of Arizona households experienced “limited or inconsistent access to nutritious and affordable food.” This number was exacerbated at the start of the pandemic, contributing to more severe cases of COVID-19 at the time. Healthful eating in America has become an overlooked cause. However, recent developments and trends in weight loss and weight management can help reduce overweight and obesity rates to boost public health.

Below, we’ll look at the “miracle” drug Ozempic and other weight loss trends Arizonians should know to promote more healthy eating habits and prevent weight-related health conditions in the future:

The “miracle” weight loss drug

Injected weekly, Ozempic is considered a treatment for individuals with type 2 diabetes. The drug helps lower blood sugar without using insulin. However, proliferated by viral videos on TikTok that promote the miracle weight loss drug, many people have rushed to get a prescription — including Hollywood celebrities.

While Ozempic may be helping people lose weight, it’s important to note that weight loss is not its intended use. A study published early last year found that trial participants of the drug actually regained two-thirds of the weight lost after a year of stopping the weekly injection. It’s also crucial to remember that because the drug is relatively new to its use for weight loss, there is still a lack of studies and research to determine any long-term side effects and health risks. Other than the likely weight regain, the spread of Ozempic as a “miracle” drug for instant weight loss seekers has negatively impacted the demographic the drug is meant for — diabetic patients. Some diabetic patients have had their prescriptions go unfilled due to the rise in demand for the drug.

Calorie deficits are not effective

Calorie deficit refers to the difference between the calories you burn and the calories you eat daily. Essentially, burning more calories than you eat is supposed to help you lose weight more effectively. However, studies over the years have long debunked this weight loss formula, as minor changes in caloric intake are unlikely to have a long-term impact. Instead, lifestyle and behavioral changes should support any changes in your diet to ensure lasting efficacy.

Most weight loss programs now focus on nutritious diets, regular exercise, and other healthy habits for sustainable, consistent weight loss. Instead of restrictive, low-calorie diets, you should be able to eat what you want — as long as you keep track of the nutrients you consume and the ones you still need. On top of the supplementary exercise to help maintain weight loss, it’s also important to pick up healthy habits. Getting enough sleep can reduce the risk of obesity, and having a supportive social circle in your weight loss journey can make for a more positive approach. Instead of indulging in calorie-deficit dieting, reducing cravings for snacking and unhealthy eating by providing your body with nutrients from nutritious foods will prevent you from seeking additional energy through sugary and fatty foods.

Obesity treatment programs can help

It’s important to remember that being overweight or obese is a serious health issue, so you don’t have to deal with it alone. Contacting and consulting with a healthcare professional can lead you to more medically safe and effective methods to manage your weight, such as obesity treatment programs. Rather than relying solely on drugs and dieting, these treatment programs include regulated sleep and stress management to help you control your weight.

Gem Academy in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a boarding program for obesity treatment and is the only program offering this treatment in the country. The program’s participants average a 38% weight loss in a year through lifestyle intervention on top of conventional diet and movement. To compare, the typical weight loss in lifestyle management is between 5% and 7%, with medications leading to a range of 5% to 15%. The program is also deemed more effective than bariatric surgery, which produces around 30% weight loss on average. Obesity treatment programs may not be as widespread as they should be. Still, with advances in obesity treatment, we should expect governments and agencies to invest more in these programs to help reduce obesity rates and their related health risks. Ultimately, the temptation of “instant” or “miracle” weight loss outcomes can be overwhelming. However, weight loss and body health can be lifelong, depending on your lifestyle and situation. Understanding the science and research that goes behind weight loss trends and miracle drugs is crucial to maintaining your health while you work on losing weight. You can check out our daily posts for more local news, editorials, and insights