May 29, 2024

Wellness Wednesday What's the Deal With Weight-Loss Drugs

While GLP-1s can be an effective tool for weight loss, they should not be viewed as a “magic pill”.

Obesity — it’s unfortunately as synonymous with American life as baseball. Over the last four decades, obesity has grown to a full-scale epidemic. Over 40% of U.S. adults have obesity, and projections expect these numbers to grow to 50% within the decade. The weight management industry has grown in parallel, and the latest innovation is GLP-1 weight loss drugs.

GLP-1s: The Latest in Weight Management

Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists represent a newer class of drugs initially developed for managing type 2 diabetes. These medications have been found to support significant weight loss in patients. Unlike earlier weight management treatments, GLP-1s work by mimicking a hormone that targets areas of the brain responsible for regulating appetite and food intake. This can lead to reduced hunger and, consequently, lower calorie intake.

Previous weight loss drugs often focused on suppressing appetite or increasing metabolism. Many of these older medications came with significant side effects and risks, such as heart problems. GLP-1s, on the other hand, have shown a more favorable safety profile and offer a dual benefit of improving blood sugar control and promoting weight loss.

GLP-1 Breakdown

Are they effective?

Studies have demonstrated that GLP-1s can be effective for weight loss. In fact, they are the most impactful weight loss medication developed to date. New GLP-1/GIPs can help patients lose around 20% of their total body weight. This weight loss can also waterfall to improve many obesity-related health conditions.

How much do GLP-1s cost?

However, the cost of GLP-1 medications can be a barrier for many. Without insurance, these drugs can cost upwards of $1,000 per month. With insurance, the cost can vary widely depending on the plan, co-pays, and deductibles. Some insurance plans may not cover weight loss medications, viewing them as non-essential, which can make them inaccessible for many who could benefit from them.

What are the side effects?

In terms of side effects, GLP-1s are generally well-tolerated but can cause issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. More serious side effects, although rare, include pancreatitis and gallbladder problems. It’s also important to note that without ongoing use and accompanying lifestyle changes, patients often regain the weight they lost once they stop taking the medication.

The short version? These weight loss drugs are effective, but without changing underlying exercise and eating patterns, they will be long-term therapies. The effects of chronic GLP-1 use remain to be seen.

A Sustainable Approach

While GLP-1s can be an effective tool for weight loss, they should not be viewed as a “magic pill”. Without regular exercise and a healthy diet, weight loss from these medications is unsustainable.

Weight loss drugs can play a role in a broader weight management strategy, especially for individuals who struggle with obesity and related health conditions. But they should be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes for the best long-term results. Consult with your primary care provider to determine an effective weight management plan for your needs and goals.

Obesity is a serious challenge in the U.S. and the introduction of GLP-1 medications offers a promising new option for those seeking to lose weight. However, maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being relies on a comprehensive approach that includes regular physical activity and a nutritious diet.

Looking for a deeper understanding of GLP-1s? Head to for a free comprehensive report breaking down everything there is to know about weight-loss drugs. You can also check out our May 2024 Well-being Webinar on weight-loss drugs.

Sarah Michaels, RN, CPBS

Authored By

Sarah Michaels, RN, CPBS

VP of Kinetiq Health
Meet Sarah