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  #1   ^
Old Fri, Dec-15-23, 00:56
Demi's Avatar
Demi Demi is offline
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Default WeightWatchers CEO says we ‘got it wrong’

Quote:
WeightWatchers CEO says we ‘got it wrong’ - as even Oprah admits to using weight-loss drugs

The role of WW in the age of weight-loss drugs has changed, says Sima Sistani in an exclusive interview. So is the old-fashioned diet over?


When WeightWatchers debuted as the world’s first major diet club 60 years ago, it was hailed as a new dawn for slimming. But in a world where a weekly jab can eradicate your hobnob cravings, and the body positivity movement has been set at odds with weight loss, the programme is at greater than ever risk of becoming obsolete.

Enter Sima Sistani, the 44-year-old former tech founder who, as of last year, is leading WeightWatchers’ charge. Today the company (renamed WW in 2018), which for most still calls to mind weigh-ins in church halls, is launching a programme designed specifically for people taking GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Ozempic and Mounjaro, hoping to draw in those who might otherwise turn their backs on dieting for good.

Yesterday, Oprah Winfrey – whose appointment as an ambassador for the brand was followed by an increase in the membership to 4.5m in 2018 – admitted that she is taking medication to manage her size. “I had an awareness of [weight-loss] medications, but felt I had to prove I had the willpower to do it. I now no longer feel that way… obesity is a disease,” she told People magazine, adding that she is now using GLP-1 receptor antagonists as a management “tool”. Following her revelation, WW said that Winfrey “consulted and advised us on the development of this new programme.”

Having forever relied upon the fact that most people’s weight-loss attempts fail, and will therefore need ongoing diet support for decades, the weight-loss injection era threatens an important revenue stream. Launching in the UK, US and Germany at the usual subscription price of £18.95 per month, WW’s new programme combines advice for those on weight-loss injections with the brand’s points-based system. It will either save the company or seal its fate.

Uber-svelte in a fitted navy dress, Sistani does not appear to be the average WW customer, but she lives and breathes the company message. Having never previously struggled with her size, she “had a really hard time losing the weight” following the birth of her son a decade ago and attempted a juice cleanse and rigorous workout regime to no avail.

That was until her mother, a dietitian, suggested WeightWatchers – a notion that couldn’t have been further from her mind for someone in her field (Sistani co-founded pandemic favourite video app Houseparty, and previously worked at Yahoo). But “it wasn’t until I experienced it for myself, and that it worked” that she realised, “this is not like my mum’s WeightWatchers”. The programme, along with getting a thyroid condition diagnosed, led her to lose 60lbs.

While Sistani has experienced both the efficacy of the original programme and what she sees as the promise of its next chapter, she knows that not everyone is so effusive. “It’s going to take time” to rebrand WW in the majority of people’s minds, she says. “The product has to do that work.” It is no small task: while Winfrey’s partnership with the brand initially boosted membership numbers five years ago, that figure is now down to four million.

In “shapeshifting to a digital health business” (WW appointed its first chief medical officer in August and now operates a telehealth arm where US users can make dietitian and GP appointments, and be prescribed GLP-1 receptors), the company has also found itself facing more competition. Minus the in-person meetings and community connections once at its core, WW is at risk of being just another health-tracking app, fighting for airtime in today’s crowded market (Noom and telemedicine startup Ro also offer GLP-1 programmes) – and one inextricably linked with dieting, now a dirty word.

Sistani admits that the toxicity of diet culture was a factor when deciding whether to take the top role at WW. “I want no part in diet culture [and] I grappled with what it would mean to lead a company that is so deeply associated with it. But where I got myself to was, ‘I need to help reshape that’.”

Sistani believes that weight loss and vanity have become too closely entwined; that people shouldn’t be vilified for wanting to slim down to fit into a certain dress – but that they should want to do so on health grounds, rather than because the perfect body shape has been sold to them in magazines or on social media. “I believe deeply in body positivity. I teach it to my kids, I try to practise it myself,” Sistani says, adding that “self-loathing is at the disservice of losing weight”.

Still, self-loathing is a useful tool, where diet programmes are concerned – ensuring repeat customers who will come back time and again when the pull of the chocolate drawer becomes too strong. WW’s model has, for six decades, insisted that behavioural change and counting “points” in food is enough – something that the raft of weight-loss medications now available appear to show is not the case.

Novo Nordisk, which manufactures Wegovy and Ozempic, is now Europe’s most valuable company. “The science has changed,” says Sistani, who admits that “we got it wrong in the past”. As such, WW’s revamp “begins with apologising about any part of the past where our programme failed anybody [for whom], unfortunately, behaviour change alone wasn’t enough.”

Of course there are still members willing to seek out their local group in the hopes of finding motivation from peers (though how this cohort will react to members who have lost weight via jabs, and therefore “not the hard way”, remains to be seen). Sistani says 20 per cent of meetings now happen in person, and she attends them weekly in New York, where the company is headquartered – though the pandemic has also made the digital shift somewhat inevitable.

She has tried to make the app more closely resemble a social network in order to retain the community element of the programme, and says she receives messages “every single day” from users proudly sharing their weight loss, and the “new lease on life” it has afforded them. (Whether people will continue paying for membership, instead of just shifting to a GLP-1 prescription and using social media for support, is also unclear.)

Though the company has attempted a facelift, Sistani has found that people’s reasons for going on a diet remain largely unchanged: new mothers attempting to revert to their old shape, those looking to reduce pressure on struggling joints, tackling a pre-diabetes diagnosis (WW also runs a programme targeted at diabetes patients), and trying to get in shape after cancer or ahead of an event such as a school reunion. Though excess weight “isn’t a gendered problem”, members remain primarily women aged 35-45.

In spite of appearances, Sistani assures me that she is 1.8lbs over her target weight at present; as such, she is dutifully monitoring her food intake (and not so much as glancing at the cookies the hotel waiter places optimistically between us) via the WW app until it drops back down, at which point she’ll retire it until next in need.

She works out five times a week, typically alternating something high intensity, like a Peloton class, with lower intensity yoga. A post-workout smoothie usually follows, while family dinners for her husband, son and six-year-old daughter tend to include “a lot of taco nights” – ground turkey or lean chicken with vegetables, refried beans and rice, or salmon, or pasta (typically lentil, which is higher in protein).

She is happy to trade tips, woes and wins with others on the WW app, both in a personal capacity and in her role as CEO. (She also shares her regimen on social media, proffering smoothie recipes while wearing a jumper that reads “saving my points for wine”.) Does the weight of people’s struggles ever become overwhelming? “It’s a great sense of purpose, I will say that.”

The biggest challenge at present is the company’s attempt to “shift the narrative around policy and coverage” of obesity medication; Sistani believes the US government should pay for jabs for those most in need (in the UK, those who meet eligibility criteria can be prescribed it by the NHS).

With leading health bodies globally declaring obesity a chronic disease – and the fifth-leading killer in the world – “I think it’s criminal that we’re not providing these medications and covering them… we would never say that if we found a cure for cancer; we’d never say that if we found a cure for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s. And these medications, they are a cure.”

Knowing that there are drugs which can ultimately eradicate much of a problem that currently kills 2.8m people per year, but that governments won’t grant free access to them, ultimately comes down to “what value to put on life,” she thinks. While eating less and moving more may be useful for those who need to lose a stone or two, it is an existing “bias” towards people with long-term obesity that continues to prevent it being seen as any other chronic illness that requires medical treatment.

It’s a conundrum a long way away from Sistani’s days in tech. “[This] was not a space I’d ever thought that I would be in [but] it makes me feel like we’re doing good work,” she says of her new juncture. “What we do is saving people’s lives every single day.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-...ss-drugs-diets/
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  #2   ^
Old Fri, Dec-15-23, 03:42
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JEY100 JEY100 is offline
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Very interesting! And will be to most women here who have memories of the weekly weigh-ins and little books! Good luck with re-branding WW and finding members who are not totally pissed off about the years wasted doing a program that Never. Ever. Worked in maintenance.

Thank you for copying the article, though I did find it reprinted without a paywall https://ca.style.yahoo.com/weight-w...-142220518.html with helpful photos of a 1960s style weigh-in and a stunning Oprah portrait.

Oprah admitted to her "insiders" in March that she had already been on Ozempic for her T2 diabetes for a year and a half, with the "side effect" that she lost 45 pounds. but confirmed on the 13th how she is now using it as needed. https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Wellness...ry?id=105631132
Gorgeous in an evening dress for Color Purple at age 70.

Last edited by JEY100 : Fri, Dec-15-23 at 04:54.
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  #3   ^
Old Fri, Dec-15-23, 05:50
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doreen T doreen T is offline
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PR release from WeightWatchers International ...

link to article

Quote:
WeightWatchers Launches New Behavior Change Program Designed to Support the Unique Needs of Individuals on GLP-1 Medications

First-ever nutrition and activity program to complement a GLP-1 weight loss journey for those who receive medication through the new WeightWatchers Clinic or their medical provider.

NEW YORK, Dec. 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- WeightWatchers (NASDAQ: WW), (“WeightWatchers,” “WW,” or the “Company”) announced today the launch of WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program to provide tailored behavioral support for individuals on a GLP-1 medication. The new program was scientifically designed to help support the unique behavioral and nutritional needs one faces while on a GLP-1 journey.

WeightWatchers continues to offer program solutions based on scientific evidence and consumer research. The medical community recognizes obesity as a chronic condition, and the need to treat it as such; so does the company’s approach to new treatment offerings. The new WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program, which was developed by WeightWatchers’ team of obesity specialists, clinicians, behavior-change scientists, dietitians and fitness experts, solves a gap in the market as members navigate life on new weight loss medications. The program supports members with building and sustaining healthy habits while appetite is significantly reduced, such as ensuring adequate nutrition - specifically protein and nutrient dense foods, as well as hydration. It also provides movement goals and a community of people on a similar journey for support and practical tips.

Whether GLP-1 medications are prescribed from their primary care physician or WeightWatchers Clinic, the GLP-1 Program is a complement to medication supported weight loss to better health outcomes. The FDA states that GLP-1 medications for weight management should only be used in conjunction with behavior modification, and now the WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program will be that complementary tool to provide the necessary behavioral support.

“What we’ve seen is that people taking GLP-1 medications need help with a different set of behavioral challenges in comparison to people not on these medications”, said Gary Foster, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, WeightWatchers. “For example, in the context of a reduced appetite, large weight losses, and a significant loss in muscle, it is important to help people focus on dietary protein and activity to minimize the loss of muscle mass. The WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program helps members establish and adhere to healthy habits while the food noise from GLP-1 medications is reduced”.

The WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program gives members comprehensive tools including:

- Daily nutritional targets, including protein, fruits and vegetables and hydration.
- Daily activity targets, inclusive of strength training, to help members maintain muscle and feel strong as they lose weight.
- A list of GLP-1 go-to foods to help ensure they are meeting daily nutritional requirements, making the most out of the calories they are consuming and minimizing food-based side effects.
- Recipes for meal inspiration to help take the guesswork out of what to eat - - Access to complimentary Virtual Workshops dedicated and tailored to members on the GLP-1 Program and led by experienced WeightWatchers Coaches.
- Trained coaches available to connect 24/7 with members for any questions along their weight health journeys.

In addition, WeightWatchers Clinic, the complete product integration of Sequence, is now available within the WeightWatchers App experience for current and prospective members in the U.S. WeightWatchers Clinic provides eligible members seamless access to:

- Personalized, timely, specialized support that helps members with their weight management goals along with access to FDA-approved medications, if deemed eligible.
- A multidisciplinary care team comprised of a Care Coordinator - to facilitate the insurance process, as well as a Registered Dietitian, Fitness Specialist, and board-certified Clinician.
- Medication management - from dosage, to refilling prescriptions, to tracking weight loss and mitigating any potential side-effects, with minimum of a monthly telehealth appointment with their clinician.

The WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program, all within the WeightWatchers App, to complement their journey on a GLP-1 medication, if deemed appropriate.
“We are now able to seamlessly support those interested in exploring if clinical interventions are right for them with WeightWatchers Clinic, as well as ensure they have a holistic resource for adopting healthy habits while adjusting to, and managing life on medications, with the WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program”, said Sima Sistani, Chief Executive Officer, WeightWatchers. “These two new solutions, living side by side, will provide greater comprehensive weight health management”.

WeightWatchers knows weight loss is not a one size fits all solution which is why the Company has multiple pathways of different science-backed solutions that improve weight health. The WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program adds to this suite of offerings alongside the #1 doctor-recommended Points Program, which has helped millions of members lose weight sustainably1 by focusing on tracking to help them manage cravings and external factors that influence eating, and the WeightWatchers Diabetes Program, which helps those living with diabetes establish a healthier pattern of eating, guiding them toward foods that are less likely to impact blood sugar levels and is proven to produces significant improvements in both weight and blood sugar levels.2 Now WeightWatchers Clinic also ensures individuals have access to greater support with FDA-approved clinical interventions, if interested and deemed medically appropriate in an offering that provides the best of biological and behavioral approaches

To educate and excite both current and prospective WeightWatchers members on the new GLP-1 Program and WeightWatchers Clinic, the Company will be offering multiple consumer touch points across various U.S. cities and digital channels in the coming months. Follow along on Instagram and TikTok for more details.

All WeightWatchers programs can be accessed through the WeightWatchers website as well as WeightWatchers for Business for employers, payers and healthcare providers. The new WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program is available to members in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. WeightWatchers Clinic is available in the U.S. only at this time.

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  #4   ^
Old Fri, Dec-15-23, 06:14
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JEY100 JEY100 is offline
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Thanks for sharing this!, Doreen.
Love that they keep inserting the word scientific (implying previous plans were not?) and then admit up front that there is "significant loss in muscle".
Quote:


“What we’ve seen is that people taking GLP-1 medications need help with a different set of behavioral challenges in comparison to people not on these medications”, said Gary Foster, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, WeightWatchers. “For example, in the context of a reduced appetite, large weight losses, and a significant loss in muscle, it is important to help people focus on dietary protein and activity to minimize the loss of muscle mass. The WeightWatchers GLP-1 Program helps members establish and adhere to healthy habits while the food noise from GLP-1 medications is reduced”.


Mentions side effects too. Members could have focused on dietary protein on their own to lose weight and minimize muscle loss, but now WW can charge them for something any free app can do as well.
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  #5   ^
Old Fri, Dec-15-23, 07:19
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cotonpal cotonpal is online now
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I continue to find the promotion of GLP-1 medications questionable, especially when potential dangers are not also mentioned. Weight Watchers, whatever its initial intention, is about now about profit, first and foremost, as far as I can tell. We here know that there are ways to lose weight, safe and effectively, without sacrificing long term health for short term results and in fact enhancing long term health.
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  #6   ^
Old Fri, Dec-15-23, 08:20
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JEY100 JEY100 is offline
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Jean, 100%! And the side effects are being reported on the same news outlets where interviews with the new WW CEO are shown.
Yesterday, along with the WW press release was:
Poison center calls related to injected weight-loss drugs up 1,500%

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023...loss-drugs.html

Again they think these involve the compounded versions though there are side effects with all of them. Side effects can be seizures and passing out ( in addition to the risk of stomach paralysis ) increasing emergency dept/paramedic visits.

Last edited by JEY100 : Fri, Dec-15-23 at 08:26.
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Old Fri, Dec-15-23, 09:06
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cotonpal cotonpal is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEY100
Jean, 100%! And the side effects are being reported on the same news outlets where interviews with the new WW CEO are shown.
Yesterday, along with the WW press release was:
Poison center calls related to injected weight-loss drugs up 1,500%

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023...loss-drugs.html

Again they think these involve the compounded versions though there are side effects with all of them. Side effects can be seizures and passing out ( in addition to the risk of stomach paralysis ) increasing emergency dept/paramedic visits.


I once read somewhere that side effects are no different than main effects, they are simply effects of what the drug does. The only difference between main effects and side effects is that the main effects are the ones that are wanted and the side effects are the unwanted ones. Clearly, in drug ads, the main effects are highlighted, given top billing accompanied by pictures of happy people in beautiful settings, while the side effects are listed very quickly at the end, as if they were not worthy of attention. Can you imagine if the side effects were listed slowly accompanied by pictures of the miserable people experiencing them?
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Old Fri, Dec-15-23, 12:40
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Calianna Calianna is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cotonpal
I once read somewhere that side effects are no different than main effects, they are simply effects of what the drug does. The only difference between main effects and side effects is that the main effects are the ones that are wanted and the side effects are the unwanted ones. Clearly, in drug ads, the main effects are highlighted, given top billing accompanied by pictures of happy people in beautiful settings, while the side effects are listed very quickly at the end, as if they were not worthy of attention. Can you imagine if the side effects were listed slowly accompanied by pictures of the miserable people experiencing them?


This is correct.

DD2 worked for a drug testing analysis company right out of college, and explained this to me back then. (although with her double major in biochemistry and molecular biology, while working on cancer drug studies in college, pretty sure she already knew it before working there)

When developing new drugs, they work to minimize the unwanted side effects, while maximizing the desired side effect.
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Old Fri, Dec-15-23, 12:59
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Calianna Calianna is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEY100
Very interesting! And will be to most women here who have memories of the weekly weigh-ins and little books! Good luck with re-branding WW and finding members who are not totally pissed off about the years wasted doing a program that Never. Ever. Worked in maintenance.

~snip~


I wonder how long it'll be before there's a class action lawsuit against WW for their decades of selling an unsustainable diet as THE answer to weight problems.

It sounds like they're trying to do damage control by switching to drug based adherence to their diet, rebranding overweight as a medical condition that can only be treated with drugs - absolving themselves of any responsibility for the shame and blame they put women through at those meetings by trotting out "we were wrong, we just didn't know it wasn't your fault and was actually a disease"

(What happens when the weight loss drugs have similar - or far WORSE problems - will WW just point to the drug mfgs and deny any responsibility again?)
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  #10   ^
Old Sat, Dec-16-23, 05:24
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JEY100 JEY100 is offline
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A Washington Post opinion piece from a staff writer who has used the WL drug for 2 years.

My weight-loss program now has Oprah’s seal of approval. But I still have questions

Obesity is now a disease that no amount of willpower can control:
“I realized I’d been blaming myself all these years for being overweight, and I have a predisposition that no amount of willpower is going to control,” said Winfrey, who turns 70 next month. “Obesity is a disease. It’s not about willpower — it’s about the brain.”

https://wapo.st/3ToXc1G

Last edited by JEY100 : Sat, Dec-16-23 at 05:30.
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  #11   ^
Old Sat, Dec-16-23, 06:53
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEY100
Members could have focused on dietary protein on their own to lose weight and minimize muscle loss, but now WW can charge them for something any free app can do as well.


Thing is, we did it, because we weren't looking for magic. What floods the zone, and messes it up, are the promises of paying to have all the work done, when "doing the work" of balancing hormones, smoothing moods, and getting rid of the brain fog only comes from figuring it out. And then living it, consistently.

I don't think any of us got here by someone else telling us what to do. Real success is not in the weight loss, it's in learning OUR version of Maintenance, and yet, no one finds that glamorous enough to promote.

Then again, WW might be onto something with all these different angles, because that's what people need. It's what they WANT, certainly. If you can't think for yourself, perhaps you do need something like this version of WW.

With people dying already, I don't think it will be so "Sunny in injectableLand" a couple of years from now. I feel terrible about it, but people will do ANYTHING but change their soothing habits.

I think their brains literally cannot imagine it.
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  #12   ^
Old Sat, Dec-16-23, 11:10
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Calianna Calianna is online now
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There is also the addiction angle - we all know that carby foods are addictive. We've all been through the withdrawal from them, and it's not easy at all. The more addicted you are, the more difficult it is. The more glycogen your body is storing - the longer it takes to eliminate the excess and therefore the longer it takes to get through induction flu.

There was someone on the LC forums a couple decades ago (no idea if he's still around or not - can't even recall his name), but he went through no less than 6 weeks of induction flu (or was it 8 weeks? I remember it was an unusually long time) before he was finally through that stage. Never mind that induction flu generally only lasts 2 weeks - how many people would be able to stick to a diet (any diet) for a full 2 weeks when they continually feel awful and crave the very things that they can't have?

Not to mention that those working in an office setting are going to be subject to exposure to the cakes and donuts and cookies and candy that they crave every single day. Every meeting -there will be snacks. The break room will have snacks.

Even the places that have gone to only allowing "healthy" snacks in their break room or at meetings - those will be things like whole grain crackers, apples, oranges, and bananas: in other words still carbs.

For those who work from home, if they have any kind of social life at all, there's still going to be going out/ordering out to eat (a mine field in and of itself), grocery store temptations to buy treats "for the kids" or to have on hand for guests. It's especially a problem at this time of year when every time you turn around there's a party or a dinner full of temptations.

Then there's the friends and neighbors dropping by with their well-meaning tray of homemade cookies or a box of candy. Unless you have an iron will when it comes to those treats, AND live alone so that you can simply graciously thank the gift giver, then throw them in the trash after they leave - those temptations are going to be very difficult to resist when you're fully carb addicted.

I think that's a lot of the reason the injectables are gaining in popularity - it's just so freakin' hard to avoid the temptations to indulge in carbs, and the injectables at least minimize your interest in food in general, plus reduce your appetite to the point that you feel stuffed after only a very small amount of any food, whether it's carby or not. (Although carbs - except sugar - are far easier for them to digest than fats and proteins, so they don't even need to struggle to overcome their carb addiction, also a plus for those who have a strong carb addiction)

Also the injectables do improve lab values for blood sugar and A1C readings, so as long as they're losing enough weight to off-set how bad they feel on the injectables, they're going to continue with it - at least as long as their insurance will continue to cover it, or if they can afford to cover the cost themselves.

I'm definitely not in favor of reliance on those diet drugs, but unless (until) the damage lawsuits start, they're going to continue to be available.
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Old Sun, Dec-17-23, 16:23
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deirdra deirdra is offline
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“Obesity is a disease. It’s not about willpower — it’s about the brain.” But if your brain chooses the right real foods, you don't need willpower or Ozempic, which may manage the weight symptom, but if you continue to eat crap, your bad health symptoms will remain.
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Old Sun, Dec-17-23, 17:22
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cotonpal cotonpal is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deirdra
“Obesity is a disease. It’s not about willpower — it’s about the brain.” But if your brain chooses the right real foods, you don't need willpower or Ozempic, which may manage the weight symptom, but if you continue to eat crap, your bad health symptoms will remain.


I agree absolutely. Over a decade ago I spent some time reading about the history of medicine and one of the things that has really stuck with me is that there is no single definition of “disease”. It is not a term that has a fixed scientific meaning with fixed criteria to determine whether or not something is a disease. Currently its use seems to imply that the problem is not someone’s fault because it resides in the body, and furthermore this often leads to the assumption that the only way to fix it is with a physical agent like a medication. At least that is what the pharmaceutical companies would like you to believe. In other words it gets the patient off the hook, “I’m not responsible”, and makes the pharmaceutical companies rich.
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Old Tue, Dec-19-23, 08:58
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cotonpal
Currently its use seems to imply that the problem is not someone’s fault because it resides in the body, and furthermore this often leads to the assumption that the only way to fix it is with a physical agent like a medication.


The medical profession did it to themselves pushing the food pyramid. I put on an extra 100 pounds eating "healthy carbs" and counting calories, which never kept my weight and moods stable or predictable.

So when the medical profession slammed Dr. Atkins, who had real science all through his book, I was willing to try something different. Sounds weird, but 20 years ago there was only ONE way to eat healthy, and it was wrong for everyone.

So I'm not surprised anyone who suffered through the "you must be doing it wrong" phase was willing to not listen to them at all. The pretty people with the easy payment system looked (literally) better to them. Supposedly, you could get your money back.

And the stories we heard about doctors and dieticians and diabetic coaches who visibly didn't do well on these regimens, either.
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