Using Meds to Aid Weight Loss Isn’t Morally Wrong

A recent letter to an agony aunt caught our eye. It was a person asking how to ethically tell their friends they were against them using Semaglutide — sold under the brand names Ozempic, Wegovy or Rybelsus — for weight loss. While the person cited vague safety concerns, the whole letter was written with a judgmental tone.

The person wrote, “Our annual trip is coming up, and I fear I’ll be forced to offer my opinion about their weight loss, especially since the trip involves time at the pool. Should I compliment them to keep the peace? Or is there a tactful way to make my differing opinion about these drugs known?”

The way that’s written implies that the person thinks their friends will say something like, “How do I look in my swimsuit?” Not that they’ll say, “What are your moral and medical opinions on my personal choices?”

When someone asks how they look, the answer should always be, “You look great.” The only exception is if they can fix it in 10 seconds, for example, food between teeth, sunscreen not rubbed in, or hair being a mess. If it takes over 10 seconds to fix, keep your mouth shut!

More and more people are turning to Semaglutide for help with their weight. When paired with diet and exercise, it can be massively beneficial to folks struggling with weight management.

Diet and exercise can be enough in many cases… but just making that recommendation without a comprehensive strategy results in massive long-term failure when dealing with a chronic and complex condition,” said Dr. Jamie Kane, the director of the Northwell Health Center for Weight Management and chief of the Section of Obesity Medicine. “What the medications do is work on factors that make it more likely that patients will get an acceptable amount of weight loss by helping control appetite, satiety and insulin sensitivity.”

People are being shamed for using Semaglutide and told that they should be losing weight “the old-fashioned way” by trying harder, eating better and exercising more. “If someone had a larger body, they were thought of as simply lacking willpower and motivation to make changes,” said Dr. Genna Hymowitz, a licensed psychologist at Stony Brook Medicine and Director of Bariatric and Weight Loss Psychology. “For years, this myth was perpetuated by the healthcare community and society in general, and many people still believe this myth.”

Being overweight is like having high cholesterol or hypertension. Lifestyle changes can make a big difference. But medication can also play a role in helping people take control of their health. Shaming folks for taking a medication to aid weight loss is like telling someone with high blood pressure to quit their drugs and just lay off the salt.

Some people shame others for taking it, claiming it’s being misused. They say that Semaglutide is only intended for people with blood sugar concerns. They assert that taking it for weight loss somehow makes the user a bad person for “stealing it” from someone with a blood sugar concern. However, that simply isn’t true. It has long been prescribed for weight loss, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOs), binge-eating disorder and blood sugar concerns.

It’s really difficult to say someone needs a medicine more than another person when they both have indications for these medicines,” said Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, an obesity and lipid specialist physician. “Both those with [blood sugar concerns] and with obesity have immense benefit from these medicines. I don’t think it’s fair to say one group is taking away from the other.”

If you are taking Semaglutide, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you are on it. You are in charge of your health, and making a plan with your doctor is essential to achieving your goals. No one else’s opinion matters. And, if a friend or family member tells you they are taking it, just smile and nod.

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