Obesity Meds Cause People to Lose Their Minds

Mental GeographyClickbait headlines are running wild on the subject of advanced obesity medicines – even in formerly responsible news sources. Over the weekend, for example, USA Today warned us that there’s dark magic in these medicines. It seems the mere availability of new and more effective obesity meds can cause people to lose their minds. They mix hyperbolic claims of magical effects with apocalyptic warnings about how bad this will for us.

Is AI gaming these stories for the perfect mix of hope and fear to guarantee clicks? They make us wonder.

Yo-Yo Dieting, Celebrities, and Opioids

In its reporting, USA Today found folks who don’t concern themselves with obesity to opine on these medicines, unburdened by any real knowledge of their medical value, risks, and benefits.

“It’s going to be a disaster,” said Kimberly Dennis, a psychiatrist who treats addiction and eating disorders – not obesity. “Everything we saw with the opioid epidemic.” That quote is breathtaking – both in boldness and absurdity.

Of course, these GLP-1 agonists are not addictive substances. Nor are they indicated in people with eating disorders. But perhaps facts are not relevant when the subject is dark magic.

The more serious problem is the confusion that comes from equating obesity treatment with the pursuit of thinness and yo-yo dieting. Weight loss is episodic. Obesity is a chronic condition that requires ongoing medical attention – not one-and-done weight loss schemes. USA Today omits any discussion of this in favor of more sensational content about dieting that has nothing to do with advanced obesity meds.

NPR barely does any better in telling the story of ShantaQuilette Develle Carter-Williams, an entertainment professional with serious health problems stemming from obesity. In her reporting, Stacey Vanek Smith jumps easily from the serious medical care for obesity into celebrity gossip about everyone seeking these meds. More clickbait.

Slim Down the Hype

Writing in the BMJ, Margaret McCartney suggests the media should slim down the hype:

“A glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that reduces appetite, semaglutide is not intended to be prescribed by general practice but by specialist NHS weight management services for people at high risk of complications of obesity.”

We don’t agree with her other suggestions that obesity medicine physicians are hopelessly biased about these medicines. But she is absolutely right about the need for less hyperbole. Because right now, too many people seem to lose their minds when they turn to the subject of these obesity meds.

Less drama and more sober efforts to meet the real medical needs of people whom these medicines can help would be good for us all.

Click here for the USA Today report, here for the NPR report, and here for the editorial from the BMJ.

Mental Geography, painting by Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi / WikiArt

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April 4, 2023

One Response to “Obesity Meds Cause People to Lose Their Minds”

  1. April 04, 2023 at 9:26 am, Allen Browne said:

    “Beam me up, Scotty- There is no intelligent life down here!”