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  #1   ^
Old Sun, Mar-12-23, 10:55
doreen T's Avatar
doreen T doreen T is offline
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Default WeightWatchers is adding next-generation weight loss drugs like Wegovy to its program

WeightWatchers has purchased telehealth startup Sequence, which will give customers access to anti-obesity medication.

USA TODAY - March 7, 2023 .. updated March 9, 2023
WeightWatchers – for more than 60 years the standard bearer of diet and exercise programs for weight loss – is getting into the medication business.

The company is purchasing a year-old telehealth startup called Sequence, which will give patrons the option to request anti-obesity medication along with their monthly membership.

The details of precisely how the medical care will be integrated into the behavioral health system have yet to worked out, said Gary Foster, WeightWatchers' chief scientific officer.

But after the deal closes this spring, WeightWatchers' members will get the option to request a telehealth visit to discuss medication. If eligible, Sequence's technology will speed the process of applying for insurance coverage for the drugs.

"As a brand leader, we have a responsibility to … look at recent advances in the science and treatment of obesity and think about if and how they fit in our WeightWatchers' ecosystem," Foster said. "We decided this was one that was worth incorporating."

Obesity expert Dr. Caroline Apovian said she's skeptical weight loss can be well managed without an in-person physical exam, but praised the move into medication.

"Kudos to them for doing this," said Apovian, who co-directs the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

A new class of drugs has been shown to help people shed 15% to 20% of their excess weight, the kind of weight loss only possible before with bariatric surgery.

"Lifestyle (change) is very important but it's not going to help people keep the weight off and that's the key," said Apovian, who serves on the scientific advisory board of Novo Nordisk, which makes one of the new drugs.

Details of the deal

WeightWatchers will acquire Sequence for a total of $132 million in a deal scheduled to be finalized this spring, according to a joint news release from the two companies.

Sequence, which launched in late 2021, had about $25 million in annual revenue from approximately 24,000 members as of last month. It offers an automated preapproval process to help patients get coverage for weight-loss medications.

"For those who have insurance coverage, you'll be able to ascertain insurance coverage in short order," which can be challenging for many medical offices to handle and has been a major roadblock for accessing medications, Foster said.

Today, only about 20% to 30% of private insurance plans cover weight-loss medications and government programs do not, Apovian said.

The drug Wegovy (generically called semaglutide), which can help people lose as much as 15% of their body weight, costs about $1,300 a month. Mounjaro (tirzepatide), a $1,000-a-month diabetes medication being tested for weight loss, has shown it can help people lose about 20%.

Foster said he also was impressed with how Sequence's customers spoke about the quality of the service and how easy it was for them to access care. The company has a limited history and did essentially no marketing, he said, but still managed to accumulate more than 20,000 members.

"We're always looking for how we can better serve people with weight management that is scalable, science-based and effective," Foster said.

Weight-loss medications aren't for everyone, he said, but for the people for whom they're appropriate "we want to make sure that process gets done well."

Why offer weight loss medications now?

In one study of 150 WeightWatchers members, participants lost about 6% of their body weight after six months, with one-third of the most active members losing at least 10%.

The new generation of medications, which manipulate natural hormones that regulate fullness, can lead to much greater weight loss.

Foster described this class of drugs, called GLP-1 agonists, as "a significant inflection point in the treatment of obesity."

While most people who lose weight through diet and exercise regain the weight, medications are expected to be taken indefinitely to keep pounds from creeping back.

"This is not a short-term fix," said Dr. Christopher Still, an obesity medicine expert and director of the Geisinger Obesity Institute. "Once you stop these medications, you take away that barrier of appetite and your appetite comes back and the weight comes back."

WeightWatchers' purchase is "a great idea," according to Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, a Canadian weight-loss specialist, who takes some funding from Novo Nordisk.

"Right now, we have a world that treats obesity like a disease of willpower and a healthcare system that's not trained in the medical management of obesity," he said.

In the past, WeightWatchers has contributed to the false notion that lifestyle change can lead to enduring weight loss for many people, Freedhoff said, while in reality thousands of genes and hormones undermine weight loss efforts. "Thankfully, we are finally in an era of safe, useful, tolerable medications that can lead to long-term clinically meaningful change."

The drugs are intended to be used in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise, so WeightWatchers' traditional plan will help people who are eligible for and choose to use medication, Foster said. As people lose substantial amounts of weight they are expected to lose some muscle, so exercise will remain crucial.

"We're not going away and we're going to continue to help people whether medications are part of their journey or not," he said.

What does WeightWatchers do?

For a monthly membership fee ranging from about $23 to $45 (USD), WeightWatchers provides a point system related to food and exercise, a digital app, branded foods and items and in-person and virtual workshops.

The company has been struggling financially in recent years. Its stock, which sold for over $100 a share as recently as June 2018 closed on Monday at under $4 a share.

Advocates have criticized WeightWatchers for giving people false hope about their ability to lose and keep off weight through diet and exercise, which has been shown ineffective long-term for the vast majority of people.

"Weight Watchers has made their fortune fomenting fatphobia, co-opting body positivity, and selling a product that almost never works," advocate Ragen Chastain said in an e-mail. "The fact that a company that is so morally bankrupt that it has been putting profits over people since its inception might gain the ability to prescribe medications with dangerous side effects is horrifying."

Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Boston Children's Hospital, said he doesn't see medication as the solution to obesity, which now includes more than 40% of Americans.

But the newer medications can be very effective at helping people lose weight.

"They're in a class by themselves compared to prior options and there's a lot of excitement about them," Ludwig said.

Disturbing ...
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  #2   ^
Old Sun, Mar-12-23, 15:29
WereBear's Avatar
WereBear WereBear is online now
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Plan: EpiPaleo/Primal/LowOx
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They can't spend all this money figuring out how to addict people to their processed food and then turn around and keep saying, "eat less and move more!" when the real problem is processed food addiction.

That’s their real issue.

They can't come up with a diet plan that works unless they tell people to moderate their junk food intake. But if someone tries to moderate their junk food intake, it's just keeping the cravings alive.

The people making money from a problem this big cannot be the ones who fix it.
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  #3   ^
Old Sun, Mar-12-23, 16:05
JEY100's Avatar
JEY100 JEY100 is online now
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Stats: 225/150/169 Female 5' 9"
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This article is so bad in so many ways, I don’t know where to start! Where does USAToday get its writers?
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  #4   ^
Old Sun, Mar-12-23, 16:26
cotonpal's Avatar
cotonpal cotonpal is online now
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Plan: very low carb real food
Stats: 245/125/135 Female 62
Progress: 109%
Location: Vermont

I need to stop reading these articles. They just make my head spin.

So all of us long term success stories on this forum, successes achieved without benefit of either medications or surgery, simply don't exist. What we have accomplished is impossible, or so such articles and their ilk would have you believe.

Last edited by cotonpal : Sun, Mar-12-23 at 16:34.
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  #5   ^
Old Mon, Mar-13-23, 03:37
WereBear's Avatar
WereBear WereBear is online now
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Our modern world has ramped up an already powerful impulse.

In a world where appearance and status matters more than facts and science, people will cling to their favorite lies.

Weight Watchers started as a support group using a low carb diet. Look at what it's become now.

Like Dr. Atkins said, "No one binges on steak." Yes! No one binges on real food.

These latest "food products" are designed to trigger bingeing. A teen wound up in the hospital unable to stop eating them.

How long will corporate overlords pretend it's all our own choice? Hardly.
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  #6   ^
Old Mon, Mar-13-23, 09:38
BawdyWench's Avatar
BawdyWench BawdyWench is offline
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Plan: Carnivore
Stats: 212/190/150 Female 5'6"
Progress: 35%
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Dr. Michael Eades has written about Wegovy/Ozempic several times now in "The Arrow." Bad idea to take it. You lose weight quickly, but if you stop taking it, you gain everything back even more quickly.
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  #7   ^
Old Mon, Mar-13-23, 10:41
Ms Arielle's Avatar
Ms Arielle Ms Arielle is online now
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I looked into this drug. Seemed like hope. A great option to find health. But its a drug with side effects.

Low carb and keto and carnivore and fasting, in a rolling pattern keep cked my unending want for sweets. Stop craving by stopping the beast. Stop feeding it. Even AS keeps it alive.

After much digging I decided this drug was not worth pursuing. Between side effects and the regains , learning how to moderate foods and exercise and such will never happen.

Getting the weight off is easier than maintaining the weight loss. It takes trial and error to find the balance that keeps the weigh oFF.
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  #8   ^
Old Mon, Mar-13-23, 15:42
WereBear's Avatar
WereBear WereBear is online now
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Originally Posted by BawdyWench
Dr. Michael Eades has written about Wegovy/Ozempic several times now in "The Arrow." Bad idea to take it. You lose weight quickly, but if you stop taking it, you gain everything back even more quickly.

So they hold desperate people for ransom.
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  #9   ^
Old Mon, Mar-13-23, 20:22
Bob-a-rama's Avatar
Bob-a-rama Bob-a-rama is offline
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Posts: 1,857
Plan: Keto (Atkins Induction)
Stats: 235/175/185 Male 5' 11"
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It might just be me, but I tend to avoid drugs whenever I can. I wouldn't take a weight loss drug, not trusting the drug company to be honest with any problems. After all, they all have side effects.

When I was young, we had a family doctor who prescribed drugs only when other, more natural methods failed, so I guess that became part of my philosophy, too.

He gave me the arthritis/bursitis diet before he retired, and it cured my arthritis and bursitis with no drugs at all, just with an adjustment to my diet.

If something like that works, I'll skip the medications.

For weight, I'm lucky, keto works for me.

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  #10   ^
Old Tue, Mar-14-23, 07:04
WereBear's Avatar
WereBear WereBear is online now
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Posts: 14,049
Plan: EpiPaleo/Primal/LowOx
Stats: 220/120/150 Female 67
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They aren't telling the truth about statins, at all, are they?

In his book Metabolical, Dr. Lustig describes a chain of education, health insurance influence, and big pharma all creating a corporate attitude towards "health." As in, the blackness of their bottom line.

Under this sneaky paradigm, we can only maintain a chronic illness, with drugs. I also suspect they significantly encourage the common attitude of, "I'd rather eat what I want and take a pill." Honesty from the patient, but not countered with honesty from the doctor, who would have to say, "It doesn't work that well."

Not addressing root causes and covering up symptoms is no way to go through life. Especially when it's more miserable that way.

And they don't even touch the addictive nature of the fake food. It's not a "drug" but it is engineering to hijack our brain for their own purposes.
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  #11   ^
Old Tue, Mar-14-23, 08:27
GRB5111's Avatar
GRB5111 GRB5111 is offline
Posts: 3,960
Plan: Very LC, Higher Protein
Stats: 227/186/185 Male 6' 0"
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Looked at the headings and sub-headings in this article. Didn't read the rationale behind this move, as it's simply more fiction to influence the masses. The WW method has met with limited success for so long, that now, they're placing their bets in the new GLP-1 drugs that have been transitioned from initial use with T2D patients to people desiring weight loss. The towel has been thrown in with the influence of pharma and the medical communities supported by pharma. It's not hard to guess which of the two, diet or drug, will be favored and responsible for the loss of weight. It's easy to ignore the long-term consequences when you get immediate results and can continue eating in unhealthy ways.
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