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Happy Monday, friends!
I’ve been coming to you on a more regular blog schedule as of late, and we’ve been chatting about some “lighter” topics these past few weeks and months: Why you should take full advantage of the Krames Health Library; how and why to send a birthday card to TOPS HQ; walking day; members in the media; members of the month; you name it.
All great stuff!
I’m going to shift gears today — and don’t you worry, I have plenty of more LIGHT topics to cover in future blogs! But do you want to know what we get asked about, and it’s a lot lately …
I’m talking about a class of medications known as GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) and GIP-1 (gastric inhibitory polypeptide) agonists. In more common terms, I’m referring to semaglutide, sold under brand names like Ozempic and Wegovy.
Surely this is now ringing a bell. 🙂
It seems like these brand names — Ozempic especially — have been EVERYWHERE lately.
Weight Watchers made headlines earlier this year when the company announced it would be purchasing a digital health company called Sequence, marking the business’s move into the growing market for diabetes and obesity drugs. Sequence, by the way, is a subscription service that offers people telehealth visits with doctors who can prescribe these types of drugs.
Celebrities have also spoken out in recent months about these medications, and we’re learning more and more everyday about side effects, long-term uses; the list goes on. Some high-profile celebs say they’re frustrated that they’ve been linked to the meds — while others, like Chelsea Handler, said she didn’t even realize that’s what she’d been prescribed. Rosie O’Donnell said tirzepatide helped her lose 10 pounds and stop thinking about food. Read more.
It’s an interesting time, for sure.
Anyway, as I typed earlier, a lot of you have asked — ever since I came on board, really, in June 2022 — where TOPS stands on all of this.
The short answer is, we don’t have an official position.
Some of our members are likely prescribed these types of medications for their Type 2 diabetes, but we don’t ask for that kind of personal health information on a membership application, so we don’t have official numbers on the subject.
TOPS has always said that weight loss is an individualized thing — what works for me, might not work for my neighbor across the street.
Our organization exists for weight loss support. We encourage people to work with their doctor, figure out the best way to eat, exercise, live mindfully and operate, based on a person’s lifestyle, personal circumstances, you name it.
If your doctor is recommending one of these meds, that’s something for you two to discuss. We can’t put out a blanket statement. The same way TOPS doesn’t endorse keto or intermittent fasting, we can’t really say, one way or other other, when it comes to these medications. It’s not our business.
We have said, however, that we don’t plan to change our model.
Again, we believe in weight loss SUPPORT, above all else, the accountability that comes from weekly meetings, and we plan to continue offering those meetings both in-person and online. So we hope you’ll keep attending! (Or bring a friend).
I think it might have sounded some alarm bells for a small number of you, when I posted on the Official TOPS Facebook page probably a month or two ago, asking if anyone had been on Ozempic long-term.
I didn’t feel like I owed a deep explanation at the time, but the reason for my FB question was this: NBC News had reached out to us, asking if we had any TOPS members in that boat, for a piece a reporter was working on.
As you might have seen, again, I did indeed put out the question to our membership.
In fact, I found a few members who said they were indeed in that camp, they were comfortable speaking on the record about it, and I passed along those names — hoping to get a TOPS reference in a national digital news story. (So much of what I want to do at TOPS is raise awareness, and even a small mention in this kind of story could make a big difference for us!)
Well, I found out recently that the news story did in fact get published.
Want to read it? Here it is: What it’s like to stay on Ozempic for years — NBC News
Pretty cool. As a former journalist myself, I’ve asked this question … aloud, in my head, or I’ve posed it to others, theoretically. Something like, “Can you stay on the meds forever?”
I’m sure if you’re someone who NEEDS Ozempic, remaining on it for years might save your life, or help kind of “re-calibrate” you. If you’re taking it recreationally, that might be a different story, but who am I to speculate? I’m no doctor, and again, TOPS does not have an official stance or recommendation on these meds. This is something best determined on a case-by-case basis, under the advisement of your own doctor.
Speaking of DOCTORS, if you have your latest issue of TOPS News in hand, our magazine publisher and I decided we should address all this buzz … but we didn’t feel comfortable doing so ourselves, as non-medical people, so we asked our TOPS Medical Editor, Dr. Srividya Kidambi, if she’d write something for us.
Dr. Kidambi is a Professor and Chief in the Division of Endocrinology and Molecular Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin/Froedtert Hospital, which is local to TOPS HQ; so as you can see, if ANYONE should be writing about the topic, it’s her! 🙂 Dr. Kidambi has also worked with TOPS for years now, so she knows her audience, when she tackles a topic like this in our member magazine.
You should have your copy of the September/October issue any day now, if you want to read word-for-word what Dr. Kidambi had to say, or you can click or tap here to view it online, in our digital edition of TOPS News.
Obviously, Dr. Kidambi presents the information in a scientific way, which makes sense, considering she’s a scientist. I think she does a nice job breaking down the material in a way that’s digestible and relatively easy to understand, considering the tough subject material. I encourage you to give it a read, when you get a few minutes.
As for that NBC News piece, the TOPS member interviewed is mentioned all the way at the bottom: her name is Wendy Tell. I so appreciated her willingness to be open with a reporter who she’d never met. This can be vulnerable stuff, I realize that.
And again, as a former digital reporter myself, I recognize that news organizations can’t include EVERY detail an interviewee provides, so you’ll just see a few lines from Wendy.
Here’s what else she told me just today, which I *wish* would have been included, but you can’t win them all. 😉 (We didn’t even get the TOPS Club reference in the published piece, which bummed me out, but I’ll push for that especially next time).
Anyway, Wendy and I direct-messaged about all this, but she gave me permission to share with you the following:
“I credit TOPS for supporting me in my weight loss journey. No shot, pill, etc. will keep the weight off. It’s through education and the support of like-minded people, that allows one to live mindfully and keep the weight off. I’m still a work in progress and looking to lose more weight to eventually reach my goal.”
Well said, Wendy!
She added, she did just recently have to go off the medication, as she’s no longer able to afford it (which is a big piece of the equation too, for a lot of people — and that could even be a separate blog entry for another day). The price point is astronomical, or well, it can be, depending on your individual insurance situation.
So, there you have it. If you’ve wondered about these meds, go read Dr. Kidambi’s article in your latest TOPS News, check out Wendy’s mention in that NBC News story linked above, and I’m sure we’ll continue to learn more every day.
If you’ve taken semaglutide and you want to talk about it, maybe for a future TOPS Of Mind blog — my inbox is always open! Drop me a note at email@example.com.
See you next Monday!