WeightWatchers launches program for users of Ozempic and other weight loss drugs

For those who thought Ozempic would spell the end of diet programs, think again.

WeightWatchers this week launched WeightWatchers GLP-1, a subscription program focused on the health and nutritional needs of patients using Ozempic and Wegovy, two brands of semaglutidea diabetes drug that has exploded in popularity for its effectiveness in helping people lose weight.

With its new membership offering, the 60-year-old diet company hopes to stay relevant in a rapidly changing industry. Widespread use of Ozempic and Wegovy has increased the diet industry and even changed consumer eating habits. It is estimated that 24 million people, or 7% of the US population, may use the drugs by 2035, according to a report by Morgan Stanley Research.

“The WeightWatchers GLP-1 program helps members establish and adhere to healthy habits while reducing food noise from GLP-1 medications,” said Gary Foster, chief scientific officer at WeightWatchers, in a statement announcing the program.

GLP-1 refers to a gut hormone that is key to how semaglutide works with the brain to suppress appetite. While Ozempic and Wegovy are both brand-name equivalents of semaglutide, only Wegovy is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for chronic weight control. Still, off-label use of Ozempic is common among those who lack insurance coverage for Wegovy.

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“A large portion of people don’t have insurance coverage for weight loss medications, but they might for Ozempic,” said Kimberly Gudzune, MD, in an article on WeightWatchers’ website.

The program, developed by a team of scientists, dietitians, fitness experts and others specializing in obesity, is designed to help members use the new anti-obesity drugs that can lead to rapid changes in weight. The offer includes daily nutrition and activity goals, including weight training to help subscribers maintain muscle mass as they lose pounds.

“What we’ve seen is that people taking GLP-1 medications need help with a different set of behavioral challenges compared to people not taking these medications,” Foster said. “In the context of decreased appetite, large weight loss and a significant loss of muscle mass, it is important to help people focus on dietary protein and activity to minimize the loss of muscle mass.”

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