New Years New Moon

Five Trends to Shape 2022 in Health and Obesity

Looking toward a new year gives us time to think about what we want and what we don’t for our lives in the year ahead. Make no mistake, the list that follows does not come from an oracle with any assurance these things must be true. But our expectations can indeed shape our futures because hopes become goals and goals can be met. So here are five trends that we hope and expect to shape 2022.

1. More Care, Less Blame

Two years with COVID-19 has shown us in vivid terms that the long, slow burn of obesity on our health can erupt into a blaze without warning. After age, we learned that untreated obesity obesity is one of the top risk factors for bad outcomes with COVID-19. Most recently, it’s become apparent that good obesity care can reduce this risk. So it’s time for healthcare providers and health plans to step up to provide more care and less blame for obesity.

We see progress in this direction and more board certified obesity medicine professionals that ever before are equipped to provide it. All we need is for the systems to evolve so that better care is the default.

2. More Plants, Less Dieting

Diets indeed are pretty much dead, but the desire for healthier patterns of eating is not. Keto, paleo, cleanses, and similar nonsense have lost their shine. Other fads will rise and fall, but one trend we see for the long term is the emphasis on finding more nourishment from plants. Along with that, we will get some faddish ultra-processed plant-based foods. But we expect them to rise and fall like the fads they are. The more sustainable trend here is to evolve our food systems to deliver us more fresh and wholesome food from plants.

3. More Semaglutide, Less Room for Blunders

Novo Nordisk rushed semaglutide for obesity (Wegovy) into the market this year, utterly unprepared for the reality of launching a game-changing new drug. So the company is back at the drawing board, trying to shore up its supply chain and meet the demand for anti-obesity medicines that work. They had best do so because more advanced medicines are coming. Blunders like launching without an adequate supply will not end well in a more competitive market.

4. More Price Competition, Less Difficult Access to Care

Saxenda approached a billion dollars in sales, in part because of a relatively high price. For about $1,300 per month, it delivered good efficacy. But most people living with obesity who could benefit from it would never be able to afford this price tag without good health insurance to help. Like insulin, complex biological drugs like liraglutide, semaglutide and other such peptides tend to command high prices because providing a generic copy has been difficult and thus price competition has been not so great.

But not for much longer. Biosimilars are starting to come into the market for advanced forms of insulin. These are new drugs that meet new FDA standards for equivalence to another complex biological drug. This means that Wal-Mart now has its own brand of advanced insulin at a lower price. Companies are also working on biosimilars for liraglutide. Thus, we expect to see health plans giving better access to advanced anti-obesity medicines while demanding lower prices and using biosimilars to give themselves leverage.

5. More Life, Less Stress

We are not done with the great resignation. That’s because many people are done with employers that do not give them safe and rewarding work compatible with good mental and physical health. Using economic threats to make people work is not OK. We expect the leverage workers gained in 2021 to give them opportunities to build better lives with less stress in 2022. It’s about time.

New Years New Moon, painting by Theodor Severin Kittelsen / WikiArt

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December 31, 2021

One Response to “Five Trends to Shape 2022 in Health and Obesity”

  1. December 31, 2021 at 10:59 am, Allen Browne said:

    Good list. Thanks.

    Happy New Year!!! To you and all.