A new program is coming: Weight Watchers prescription weight loss medication program in addition to their healthy food and lifestyle programs. What are the details of the program and is it right for you? Read on to learn more about this breaking news that was announced March 7, 2023.
- WeightWatchers Announces Weight Loss Medication Program
- What’s Included in the WW Medical Weight Loss Management program?
- What Medications Will Be Offered in the Weight Watchers Drug Telehealth Program?
- FAQ about the Weight Watchers Medication Program
- What Members Are Saying
- Medication for Weight Loss: My Perspective
This article is not medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other medical professional.
WeightWatchers Announces Weight Loss Medication Program
WW announced a few days ago that it purchased Sequence, a platform that provides telemedicine appointments with doctors who can prescribe popular medications for weight loss like Ozempic and Wegovy.
This is in additional to other WW Changes in 2023 and closing hundreds of studios.
Click here for details on WeightWatchers new medical weight loss management program from the company.
The new program has not yet been released, but you can join the WW medication program waiting list here.
WW is clear to point out that medication does not replace healthy eating. The Weight Watchers membership with the points system, app, digital and in-person meetings will remain the same.
What’s Included in the WW Medical Weight Loss Management program?
Medications included in the new program are GLP-1s. GLP-1s, medications for diabetes management, also promote weight loss. GLP-1 (which stands for glucagon-like peptide) is a gut hormone released by cells in your intestinal tract after you eat.
While GLP-1 naturally occurs in the body, it only lasts about two to three minutes upon release. But the drug form of GLP-1, known as GLP-1 agonists, can last up to 14 hours in your body. In addition to regulating blood sugar, these drugs activate receptors in the brain to curb appetite and in the gut to slow stomach emptying.
What Medications Will Be Offered in the Weight Watchers Drug Telehealth Program?
Right now, six medications are approved by the FDA specifically for weight loss:
- Bupropion-naltrexone (brand name: Contrave)
- Semaglutide (brand name: Wegovy)
- Liraglutide (brand name: Saxenda)
- Orlistat (brand names: Alli and Xenical)
- Phentermine-topiramate (brand name: Qysmia)
An additional medication, Ozempic, is the brand name for a form of the GLP-1 drug semaglutide. Right now Ozempic is only FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes, but it is prescribed off-label for weight management.
FAQ about the Weight Watchers Medication Program
Here are answers to most-asked questions about the new WW medication program. (Click on each + to open a box with the answers.)
What Members Are Saying
There has been much discussion about the WW program in the news media and by current members on social media and in the WW Connect community (in the WW app).
As a WW member for many years, here are a few of the typical comments I am seeing:
- “WW has jumped the shark. The whole point of the program is to promote and teach a healthy lifestyle for weight loss.”
- “WW should stick to what they know.”
- “Weight Watchers has been losing members since the pandemic and this is purely a decision driven by dollars. I’m disappointed in you, WW.
- “People using Ozempic for weight loss has led to a shortage and now people who really need it are having trouble getting it. I could never support that.”
- “I took Ozempic for diabetes and it made me very sick, and I didn’t lose any weight.”
- “I just see it as another option for those who really need it, although it’s a bit too pricey for me.”
- “WW is going against what they have preached for years.”
- “There’s a lot more to permanent results than a pill or injection.”
Medication for Weight Loss: My Perspective
I am maintaining a 100 pound weight loss, am a WW Lifetime member, and have kept the weight off for almost 20 years. I lost the weight through therapy and the Weight Watchers points system.
I have never taken GLP-1s and would not be a candidate currently because I am within a healthy weight range.
Medication is a Tool
I am not opposed to weight loss medication or weight loss surgery, and if I was heavier, I would consider it as an option for myself. I know that might surprise – and even anger – some people. (Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.)
I don’t believe weight loss medications or surgery should be a first choice, but I do believe they are tools that could potentially benefit some people.
- Are weight loss meds a cure for weight loss problems? Absolutely not.
- Are they a quick fix? No.
- Could they be a help along your weight loss journey? Perhaps, yes.
- Would weight loss medication alone have fixed my weight problem? No. I had spiritual, emotional, and mental health work that needed to be done in order for me to stop the ways I was using and abusing food.
I will also admit that when I first read the news that WW was introducing a weight loss medication program, I wasn’t thrilled. I look to Weight Watchers to keep doing what it does best – help me manage my food intake in a healthy way.
While there are exceptions, I think any medication is best given by a doctor who has an ongoing relationship with the patient.
Weight Loss (and Maintaining) is Hard
Look friends, weight loss is hard.
Obesity rates in the United States and other developed countries is at an all-time high. The cost to society, and to us as individuals, it tremendous. We absolutely have to get a handle on this problem, and there is not going to be one easy answer.
Never before in history has a majority of the population had access to (fairly) affordable calorie-dense foods in the way that we have access now. The sad reality is that this blessing and abundance is killing us.
Changes to our food supply, regulation of the food industry, medical intervention and personal accountability will all be necessary to turn the tide on this rising problem.
For many of us, our struggle against body fat is a tough road, an uphill battle, and an area of life where we feel like total failures. I felt it myself, and I speak with people every day who feel completely hopeless when it comes to getting control of their eating.
No medication will fix these issues, but if it gives someone a bit of a boost to help them get moving in the right direct, then I think it should be considered.
I’ve shared openly that I continue to be challenged with maintaining my weight loss. Living life at my goal weight requires daily diligence, food tracking, and careful monitoring. I deal with real physical hunger and a high food drive.
- Are my ongoing struggles because my body is trying to return to a higher set point?
- Is it due to my genetic make-up (almost all of my extended family is overweight or obese)?
- Is it because I was a binge eater and compulsive overeater from the time I was a small child?
I don’t know the answer. My guess is that all of these are important factors.
Weight Loss & Shame
Most of us who struggle with our weight struggle with feelings of embarrassment and shame.
If you are taking, or considering taking, a medication for weight management, there is no shame in that.
This is a decision for you to make together with your doctor, and if you determine that it’s right for you, then no one has business judging that. You are also allowed to keep this information confidential.
Taking a drug to lose weight is not cheating. The only way to lose body fat is to eat fewer calories than you burn, and there’s no way to cheat that system. (Trust me, if there was a way I would have found it a long time ago.)
Consider the Risks & Costs
While I’m in favor of supporting people who choose medication, it’s also important to consider the risks and costs.
All medications, including these, have risks and side effects. Weight loss medications have side effects like diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, and headaches. While these drugs have been used to treat diabetes for many years, they are still fairly new and we don’t really know the long-term effects when used for weight management.
It’s also important to understand that these meds only work for as long as you are taking them, so you will need to keep taking it. When you stop taking the medication, assume that the weight and hunger will return.
If your insurance does not cover the cost, prices are anywhere from $700-$2,000 per month. Taking a drug like this long-term is a serious financial commitment.
Weight loss results on these drugs is moderate. The average weight loss is 15% of your body weight. While that’s an improvement over previous drugs, it’s still not terribly exciting. For a person who needs to lose 100 pounds, that’s 15 pounds. For a person who needs to lose 50 pounds, that’s 7.5 pounds. Only you can decide if that amount of weight loss is worth the cost and risks to you.
I’m actually more interested in the way newer medications help with food thoughts and obsessions, compared to the weight loss in pounds.
As anyone who has had weight loss surgery will tell you, you still have to put in the work. Nothing on the outside will fix what is broken on the inside.
What are you thoughts about WW and weight loss medication? Share in the comments below.
I certainly don’t know if these medications truly help in the long term. Learning how to eat properly seems to me what will help us through all our lives. But I don’t have a medical problem. So for me they hold no appeal but if someone needs these then I would imagine they would be helpful but they will still have to learn how to eat properly and under their needed calories each day for live long success.
Sara I agree with you. Medicine is not the way to go. I too am a lifetime ww person who has kept it off for 27 years. Maintenance is hard but worth it. I remember phen fen and all of the people who died from the medication. I feel ww ought to stay in their own lane. I will do what I need to do for my life and watch my weight. By the way I really like your approach with your journey.
Very balanced and fair article, thank you. What is not being said often is that many people are being helped with PCOS and insulin resistance – people who have done “all the right things” and could not lose are now getting their health back. So, for some – it’s not as simple as it seems to just eat healthy, exercise and maintain a calorie deficit. My hope is that WW focuses on the education aspect and really ensures people do make informed decisions, and that they stick to strict guidelines on who is eligible. For many, it’s truly just another tool to help and others it is honestly life changing, and yes – for some it’s the “easy” way out (although from what I have heard, it’s really not easy). As far as side effects – every drug has side effects. None of us would ever take any medicine if we truly were aware of potential side effects. Medical provider opinions, education and recommendations are all over the place, so do not base your opinion on what one provider says – for every one against, there are as many who think it will be a huge asset in the fight against obesity. Also, drug shaming is almost as bad as fat shaming.
Tammy Saccomano says
Very disappointed in WW. Feeling betrayed by the company whose philosophy was to lose weight eating healthy, balanced, food as opposed to the latest lose weight quick scheme.
I am appalled that WW is now involved in medications for weight loss. So wrong. Have they given any thought to what they wlll do when people have a dangerous reaction? Because people WILL. react. They shoud put their money into livng healthy lifestyles. I am overweight and have used WW many years ago when it taught that God is the answer, not dangerous meds.
I agree. Weight watchers needs to stick with teaching people how to lose weight naturally and how to keep it off. If a person feels they need more then that that’s when they get their personal doctors involve. WW works . I see it at every work shop in the results others as well as myself have had. I agree WW is a lifetime way to lose and maintain weight. For me as a life time member the road to it wasn’t easy and I have falling off the program several times but then I realized that in order to maintain I need to go to in person meetings for support probably for life and I’m so nervous that that option may be taking away and I will be on my own again.
Linda Hollis says
Facebook WW groups have been full of comments since the announcement. You had the best comment. Currently, I am on the diabetic plan. Since starting in October of 22…my blood sugar & A1c has improved. I’ve lost 27 lbs and have almost 75 lbs to go. I take Jardiance, Metformin, Treseba, and Trulicity. Because there are side-effects that challenge weight loss. Trulicity is difficult to get and all but the Metformin is EXPENSIVE. So there is a shortage of the drugs mentioned for those who need it. Also, there is suposedly a $99.00 monthly subscription. There is also more info to come. Currently, I would stick to my doctor for my meds and medical info.
I can apprecaite that as more an more scientific evidence shows that diet alone may not work and that medication can be a powerful adjunct that weight watchers is incorporating it. They have always said they want to be guided by science and that is what the science is showing. As your article says the medications alone won’t fix anything they have to be comivine with changes in ones relationship with food. It’s a lifestyle change. The long term side effects are of some concerns and I’m not exactly sure why weight watchers feels a need to be in the space themselves vs just acknowledging the tools for members but I understand a company’s need to innovate and stay relevant.
I agree with you Mary! What a disappointment!!
Sara Stewart says
I am glad WW is going to have this as an option. The new weight loss drugs are additional tools in the weight loss tool box, which do not avoid the need to do the behavioral and nutritional work that WW supports. They offer hope to the morbidly obese, and I am in favor of anything that helps folks get healthier and live a better life. WW has always been in the vanguard of weight loss science and ignoring these drugs would be counter to the WW brand. Nobody is saying that they must be used, but for eligible persons, its good to know that it’s available.
Mary Lee L Todisco says
WW has changed in the years since I first joined. No longer health conscious, it’s now all about the money. I’m done with them.
Marie J Proctor says
I totally agree it seems every since ophrah got her fingers on WW has gone down hill. Program use to work with out medication.. how much ,only does she need?
Marie, my thoughts entirely! Once Oprah joined WW, (even changing the name!) things went downhill from there. I felt Weight Watchers went totally “woke” . Once, I had posted my opinion on to a FB page, and I was trolled very hard. That was confirmation to me. I was finished with Weight Watchers, and I happen to be a former WW leader.
Again, so sad.
I’m disappointed in Weight Watchers for doing this but it is a business. This should be between the member and their physician not Weight Watchers personnel.
Beth Reiley says
From someone who has used Weight Watchers methodology several times, to now using mounjaro. I lost 10lbs on WW many, many years ago. I have always tried to follow their plan even when I was not a member. Unfortunately, the food noise in my head was always present and most times I was unable to ignore it and therefore gained 80lbs. Mounjaro has quieted that food noise (what’s in the frig, what’s in the frig, whats in the frig). I’m learning what food I can and cannot tolerate while taking mounjaro., but I’m doing so using WW as a guide. I know what is appropriate to eat and in what portions from WW, I now use that to help with my eating. WW is not selling out, they are adding another tool in the toolbox to help you maintain a healthy relationship with food. There are many providers out there who do not understand weight, weight gain and weight loss. WW takes it’s knowledge of weight loss and gives a foundation for healthy eating as well providing providers who understand how these new medications can help.
Is this also used for diabetes? And from what I understand about this medication is that you have to inject it into yourself? And I know unless you have diabetes this medication will not be covered unless the person weighs 300 pounds.
I also think it’s very wrong for weight whatchers to promote this as it’s putting chemicle into a person body. This is best left to a doctor who knows the person who wants this.
I know I won’t be taking this medication because I can not affor this.
I’m a pharmacist and I agree with every quoted statement you had in the article about why this is a bad move by Weight Watchers (although peripherally I understand, because these drugs are so unbelievably in demand right now they could conceivably put them out of business). In addition, all of these medications have side effects and the benefit vs risk of taking them has to be seriously, not casually, considered. In my dealings with those getting these medications at my pharmacy I can tell you nearly all of my patients are completely clueless about any adverse reactions…they haven’t been told about them nor has their doctor gone over them. Nor have they been made aware that most of them are going to regain the weight they lost (+) after their appetite returns. The bottom line is this–if you rely on these drugs to lose weight (and most patients are) you will fail.
Deb R. says
Thank you for sharing from your position of knowledge. The side effects of these meds are awful. I just can’t see taking them unless they are medically necessary to sustain your life. I feel like anyone that goes through WW to get these meds has probably ignored what their own pcp has told them. Honestly, I think the FDA should be investigating.
Connie Zimmerman says
I am so disappointed in WW. I am lifetime and do not plan to continue to support WW in any way. The thing is WW was presenting itself as a healthy, natural way to lose weight. It is hard, but possible, and the healthiest way to treat your body. I am old enough to remember Fen Phen and how so many people were sucked in (including me). Then many people died. Ozempic has so many side effects and doctors are warning when you stop taking it all the weight plus comes back. It can cause drastic drops in blood sugar. If patients don’t understand what is happening with low blood sugar the results can be deadly. I have a close friend taking it for her diabetes and she has side effects that are very unpleasant but it is keeping her glucose in check. The weight did not fall off magically. If I wanted to be on a drug for weight loss I would choose a doctor that would actually see me to make sure my health was not being adversely affected. This was not the basis of WW in prior years. My fear is that innocent people will trust WW and the results will be disastrous.
I thought this was a joke at first, Sara. This is appalling to me. So, when one cannot work the WW program that has helped millions of people for decades by modifying behavior, spaces, tracking, moving more, meetings, etc., no problem, just take a pill?
Why utilize WW at all if you are going to resort to medication to get the weight off? It just doesn’t make sense. Just go to your doctor and get a prescription and save the monthly WW fee.
Would the 15% weight loss be of your current weight not the amount you want to lose, i.e. if you weight 200 pounds, the 15% loss would be 30 pounds?
I do not agree with WW going in this direction. I think that it’s a decision best left to the individual and their doctor. Many are looking for the magic bullet that will help drop the pounds. Medications and injections are tools to help you on your journey. You still have to do the work. It also doesn’t help to address why you overeat. You need to solve the emotional / mental reasons why you overeat. in conjunction with a healthy eating plan -and meds if needed. While this offering is through a 3rd party–I see it as a conflict of interest to own the company that is offering you the treatment. Weight loss is a struggle for me-it probably will always be. But I have chosen to never stop trying, or learning about myself and my addiction to food
I’m very disappointed in WW getting involved with medications thru a telemedicine company. If people want to try these meds they should do it with their PCP not a weight loss company. The side effects, the costs, the fact that as soon as you stop taking it you will gain it back is not worth it. WW has been ill advised. The last two CEOs have ruined WW in my opinion. The app and virtual meetings are great but still prefer meetings in person. Cutting back big time on them is discouraging too. What happens to Lifetime members who can only do virtual? Why are International members getting free access till Feb 2024 but not franchise Lifetimers at goal? What’s next? No free meetings for Lifetimers?