Feb 27, 2024 - Health

Americans don't think weight-loss drugs will fix the obesity epidemic

A close-up photo of pharmacist's hand holding an Ozempic box

Photo: George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Most Americans who've heard of Ozempic and other new GLP-1 drugs think they can help people with severe weight problems, a new Pew Research Center survey finds.

Why it matters: The public recognizes the injectable treatments' potential to help on the individual level, but they're less convinced that drugs being touted as a major breakthrough — and already upending markets — will put a major dent in America's obesity problem.

What they found: 53% of adults familiar with the drugs say they're good options for people with obesity or a weight-related health condition compared with 19% who say otherwise and 28% who aren't sure.

  • But just 12% say they're good options for people who don't have a weight-related health condition and are trying to lose weight.
  • Almost a similar share (16%) said the drugs will significantly reduce the U.S. epidemic of obesity, which has grown to about 4 in 10 adults. The rest are evenly split about whether the drugs will help some or not much/not at all.
  • About 3 in 4 say they've heard of the drugs.

The intrigue: The success of the weight-loss drugs has shown obesity is more about biology than willpower — a distinction the public apparently grasps.

  • About two-thirds say willpower alone usually isn't enough for people trying to lose weight and keep it off.
  • That view was more widely held by women, Black and white adults, older adults and Democrats/lean Democrats.

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