Walking Away

Are We Missing Our Chance for Better Equity in Obesity Care?

GLP-1 agonists offer an opportunity to reduce health disparities, writes Karen Kaplan in the Los Angeles Times. But a problem with equity in obesity care is getting in the way. So instead, it seems they may be making things worse.

Cardiologist and health services researcher Lauren Eberly tells Kaplan:

“These patients have a higher burden of disease, and they’re less likely to get the medicine that can save their lives. I feel like if a group of patients has a disproportionate burden, they should have increased access to these medicines.”

But clearly, that is not what is happening. Instead, advanced obesity care goes mostly to the few and the wealthy. “Disparities in access and quality of obesity care worsen health inequities for vulnerable populations,” writes Tiffany Bell Washington.

The Door Is Open to a Better Way

This does not have to be the final word. Pharma companies are investing billions to scale up manufacturing of new obesity medicines. Competition can work to bring prices down. Some Medicaid programs, like Pennsylvania, have opened up access to obesity medicines and more should follow their lead.

The truth is that development of GLP-1s have captured our attention and offered us an opportunity to work toward better equity in obesity care. Hamlet Gasoyan of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Value-Based Care Research has wise perspective on the opening we have:

“We get excited every time a new, effective treatment becomes available. But we should be equally concerned that this new and effective treatment reduces disparities between the haves and have-nots.”

Click here for Kaplan’s article, here and here for further perspective on disparities in obesity care.

Walking Away, photograph by Jerzy Gorecki / WikiArt

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April 17, 2024

2 Responses to “Are We Missing Our Chance for Better Equity in Obesity Care?”

  1. April 17, 2024 at 7:21 pm, TIna said:

    Absolutely! Now that they are seeing these help with more than just obesity, but the comorbidities such as heart disease and heart failure it needs to be pushed through insurance coverage. Why pay for all these surgical invasive procedures when we can help with medications?? Don’t get me wrong I think in the right situations bariatric surgery is life saving and needed, but insurance companies need to look more at preventative measures and getting folks more healthy! This medication shouldn’t just be for the wealthy, want to lose 20 pounds-that burns my cookies!

  2. April 26, 2024 at 7:19 am, obesity treatment said:

    Karen Kaplan’s exploration in the Los Angeles Times underscores a critical issue: the lack of equity in obesity care despite the potential of GLP-1 agonists. As cardiologist Lauren Eberly points out, disparities persist, denying vulnerable populations life-saving treatments. However, there’s hope in scaling up production and expanding access, paving the way for a more equitable future in obesity care. Good blog.