As Americans struggle with weight, more and more doctors are turning to weight loss medications

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Experts say nearly three-quarters of Americans are struggling with their weight, and many people are now using a drug originally intended to help with a different problem. Recently, it has gained wider acceptance.

For 36-year-old Susan Corona, her determination to lose weight led her to hit the gym five days a week and eat well. However, the weight kept coming back.

“I lost about 50 pounds, but then I gained five back and another five back,” she said.

Corona was diagnosed with the hormone disorder polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. Obesity experts say it is one of the many underlying conditions affecting 70% of overweight or obese Americans.

“Like insulin resistance, PCOS, family history of diabetes, thyroid, or other hormonal imbalances that make it almost impossible for them to lose that weight,” said Dr. Thais Aliabadi, a gynecologist who also specializes in medical weight loss.

For nearly 10 years, she has been prescribing a class of drugs called Semaglutide to help her patients lose weight. They were originally approved to treat type 2 diabetes. Corona has lost 25 kilos in less than three months.

“It changed my life and it was the best decision,” she said.

“If your BMI is 30 or more, or if you have a BMI of 27 plus an underlying condition, then you qualify for these drugs,” Aliabadi said.

Semaglutide increases your body’s ability to produce insulin and lower glucagon. The result is less hunger and more energy. The most well-known of these semaglutides is the subject of much discussion on social media and in the press – popularity drives demand.

dr Lydia Alexander, president-elect of the Obesity Medicine Association, said while these weight-loss drugs are gaining far more acceptance, the data for prescribing them to someone with a near-ideal BMI is unknown.

The most common side effect is nausea and vomiting.

“We don’t know what the risks and benefits are for that person beyond the cosmetic effects, and there’s a shortage of medication because a lot of people, 70% of the country, have a weight problem,” Alexander said.

Without insurance, these drugs can cost anywhere from $900 to $1,500 per month. While taking semaglutide medication can help you lose weight while on the drug, studies show that most people regain much of that weight when they stop taking it.

“So I use Semaglutide just to drop their weight and get them to their dream weight, and then I teach them how to maintain it,” Aliabadi said.

That’s exactly the plan Cordero is aiming for.

“I’m very encouraged and very optimistic about my future, you know, and very grateful,” she said.

Copyright © 2023 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved. As Americans struggle with weight, more and more doctors are turning to weight loss medications

Laura Coffey

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