Wegovy (semaglutide) was originally approved by the FDA in 2021 as a treatment for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight. In 2022, it became the first FDA-approved drug for the treatment of adults with binge eating disorder (BED).
The Role Of Wegovy In Binge Eating Disorder Management
BED is characterized by recurrent episodes of compulsive overeating, often triggered by negative emotions and a feeling of loss of control. This disorder affects approximately 2.8% of adults in the United States and is associated with obesity and other health complications.
Wegovy is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist that works by activating receptors in the brain that regulate appetite and food intake.
By stimulating these receptors, Wegovy suppresses appetite, leading to decreased food consumption, increased feelings of fullness, and subsequent weight loss.
In clinical trials, Wegovy has been shown to be effective in promoting weight loss in adults with obesity and reducing binge eating episodes in those with BED.
Why Experts Are concerned about the focus on new weight loss drugs
While Wegovy represents an exciting new option for treating BED, some experts have expressed concerns about the growing focus on weight loss medications. They worry this emphasis detracts from establishing healthy and sustainable lifestyle habits.
Obesity specialist Dr. Yoni Freedhoff cautions that “these medications are not cures and lifestyle still matters.” He notes lifestyle interventions should be the foundation of BED treatment, with medications used only as an adjunct.
Other experts worry about the lack of long-term safety data and the possibility these drugs may be overprescribed before their benefits and risks are fully characterized.
There are also concerns that advertisements for weight loss drugs reinforce unrealistic beauty standards and the stigma around higher weight. Instead, advocates argue society should work to accept diverse body sizes while still promoting health.
Yo-yo weight loss Is problematic
The yo-yo effect, or weight cycling, refers to the pattern of repetitive weight loss and regain that often occurs with dieting. This phenomenon can be triggered or exacerbated by weight loss drugs. When medication use is stopped, appetite-suppressing effects wear off and weight is typically regained.
Weight cycling can negatively impact health in several ways. Rapid weight loss leads to loss of muscle mass and a disproportionate loss of water and lean tissue compared to fat. This makes it easier to quickly regain weight. Fluctuations in weight may also strain the cardiovascular system.
Psychologically, yo-yo dieting can create a vicious cycle of negative emotions. Guilt overweight regain leads to over-restrictive dieting, which leads to binge eating when willpower runs out. This fuels feelings of self-blame and damages self-esteem.
To avoid yo-yo weight loss, experts stress the importance of maintaining lifestyle changes after stopping weight loss medication. Gradual weight loss combined with exercise helps retain muscle mass. Working on body acceptance and a healthy relationship with food is also key.
Signs Weight Loss Drug Headlines May Be Adversely Affecting You
The hype around new weight loss drugs like Wegovy can have unintended negative impacts.
Here are signs coverage may be affecting you adversely:
You feel inadequate about your body and weight. Reporting on these drugs often reinforces unrealistic thin ideals. This can exacerbate body dissatisfaction.
👉You want a “quick fix.” Headlines about dramatic weight loss may lead you to view medication as an easy solution, rather than focusing on sustainable lifestyle habits.
👉You feel internalized weight stigma. The language that frames higher weight as a universally negative health outcome promotes weight bias. This can reinforce feelings of shame.
👉You compare yourself to others. Stories of other people’s weight loss success may lead to unhelpful social comparison. This distracts from inner appreciation.
👉You feel pressure to try the drug. Even if you have reasonable goals and a healthy outlook, the hype around weight loss drugs can create pressure to conform to external standards.
If you notice increased self-criticism, impatience, negative social comparison, or feelings of failure around your body, it may be time to re-evaluate your media diet.
Focus on appreciating your body, cultivating healthy habits sustainably, and judging yourself only against your own standards.
Wegovy represents an exciting pharmaceutical advance for treating BED and managing weight. However, it should be prescribed cautiously and viewed as just one possible component of treatment. Lifestyle interventions to build healthy eating habits and a positive body image should form the foundation.
Medications like Wegovy carry risks as well as benefits. They may work to suppress appetite and reduce binge eating in the short term. However, they do not fix underlying psychological and emotional drivers. Stopping the medication usually leads to weight regain if behavioral patterns remain unchanged.
Rather than quick fixes, sustainable change comes from compassionately building healthy routines and mindsets around food and our bodies. While Wegovy could help some on this journey, it is no substitute for the hard but rewarding work of learning to care for ourselves holistically.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wegovy is an injectable weight loss medication, approved in 2022 to treat binge eating disorder in adults.
It is a GLP-1 receptor agonist that suppresses appetite by acting on the brain regions that regulate hunger and fullness.
GI issues like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting are common when starting Wegovy but usually improve over time. It may also increase heart rate.
No, it is most effective when combined with diet, exercise, and therapy to change habitual eating patterns. Weight is usually regained once the medication is stopped if behaviors remain unchanged.
It is not recommended for those with a personal or family history of thyroid cancer or people who are pregnant or breastfeeding