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 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.