New Obesity Drugs Come With a Side Effect of Shaming

But like others at the clinic, she still struggles with the fear others will judge her for receiving injections to treat her obesity rather than finding the willpower to lose weight and keep it off.

Yet the drug, she said, “changed my life.”

Wegovy and drugs like it make this “a very exciting time in the field,” said Dr. Susan Yanovski, co-director of the office of obesity research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

About 100 million Americans, or 42 percent of the adult population, have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the first time, people with obesity, who faced a lifetime of medical jeopardy, can escape the ruthless trap of fruitless dieting and see their obesity-related health problems mitigated, along with the weight loss.

But there is still the taint.

“There’s a moral component to it,” Dr. Yanovski said. “People really believe that people with obesity just need to summon their willpower and they think that taking a medicine is the easy way out.”

Unlike other chronic diseases, obesity is on full public display, Dr. Yanovski said. “No one looks at you and knows you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure,” she said.

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