Weight Loss Commerce vs. True Obesity Care

Despite medication shortages, it seems that access to a weight loss medication prescription is more available than ever. From aesthetics-focused dermatology offices to programs offered by companies like Costco, Hims & Hers Health, and Weight Watchers, there are many ways to get a weight loss medication prescription these days. and one might think that this is a good thing for people living with obesity.

But weight expert Michael Albert cautions that this does not represent progress. In a recent blog post, he drew a distinction between weight loss commerce and true obesity care. (Read the full article here.)

In his view, there is a significant difference between obtaining a weight loss medication prescription via a one-off telehealth appointment versus receiving comprehensive care at an obesity medicine clinic, where an expert provides personalized, ongoing treatment tailored to your life, health history, and unique goals.

Toronto-based weight expert Dr. Megha Poddar describes the effects of weight loss commerce this way: “We [have] encountered a lot of people who are on medications for weight management, but not actually getting the behavioral treatment.”

Behavioral treatment (like cognitive behavioral therapy and other psychological interventions) represents one of many elements of obesity care that commercial weight loss programs usually don’t provide, even though it is one of the three pillars of obesity care, according to the Canadian Adult Obesity Clinical Practice Guidelines. Dr. Poddar and several other obesity specialists have started an all-virtual obesity clinic in order to broaden access to complete obesity care.

“We wanted to be able to give people the tools to not only be successful at reducing their weight, but actually feeling better, improving body image, improving their relationship with food,” she explains. Most commercial weight loss programs simply don’t offer the one-on-one support to enable people to achieve these types of goals.

Commercial programs tend to offer the same treatment for everyone, rather than being able to tailor individual treatment programs based on a person’s health, history with weight and unique challenges. These programs also exist outside of the traditional healthcare system which means they’re usually not able to collaborate with other healthcare providers a person may be seeing, such as a cardiologist, endocrinologist, etc.

By contrast, the healthcare professionals listed on our physician locator tool are obesity medicine experts, each with specialized training and certification in obesity management. They focus on providing holistic obesity care that’s personalized for the unique needs and goals of the individual, using evidence-based treatments and a multidisciplinary approach. By using our physician locator tool, patients can easily find qualified professionals who are truly committed to helping them achieve sustainable weight management and improve their overall health. Check out our physician locator here.

It’s not just the methodology of the two approaches that differs, however… it’s also the long-term results.

As Dr. Poddar puts it: “When you’re seen every two weeks by health care providers that understand the science of obesity, and understand how to help you with different modulators and coping strategies around behavioral therapy, we know that people tend to be successful more long term, as well as have greater confidence to be able to keep their weight off.”

The hallmarks of obesity care:

  • Collaboration with other healthcare providers
  • Comprehensive and personalized treatment plans
  • Medical providers who understand obesity
  • Individualized education and ongoing support

The challenges of commercial weight loss programs:

  • One-size-fits-all solutions
  • Lack of expert medical oversight
  • Lack of ongoing support
  • Lack of communication/collaboration with other healthcare providers

To find a physician near you who specializes in weight management, click here.

This article was sponsored by Novo Nordisk. All content is created independently by My Weight – What To Know with no influence from Novo Nordisk.

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