Concern About Side Effects

Have you seen the commercials that advertise prescription medications directly to the public?  More than ½ of the commercial is spent with disclaimers about how that medication can hurt your kidneys, liver, GI tract and could possibly kill you.  As you are watching the actors in those ads playing riding bikes, hugging each other and hanging with their grandchildren, the voiceover is telling you how this medication can harm you.

If I were to tell you that the following “side effects” were associated with this, how would you react?

  • Cancer of the breast, ovary, stomach, colon or pancreas
  • Diabetes
  • Blindness
  • Kidney problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke

Chances are, your reaction would be to run away from this for fear that there is so much more harm than “good” associated with this one.  

Well, this “one” I described with the above “side effects” is actually not a medication, but rather, poor weight control and the co-morbidities associated with being overweight/obese.  The big difference between medications that have many side effects and poor weight control that has many co-morbidities is that the advertised medication has a “good” aspect, as the FDA provided an indication for its use as a treatment for some disorder.  In the case of poor weight control, there is really no “good” associated with this at all.

This entry was inspired by not you, my patients, but rather people that come in for a free initial consultation, hear about the medications we use, and either their doctor or they place a “DO NOT” on the program because of concerns about the side effects of the meds.  I certainly respect people’s decisions 1000% but I cannot help but wonder whether they understand that the “risk” of their poor weight control far exceeds the risk of the treatments we offer under supervision.  

Medical decisions, and frankly most decisions we make should be based on a very thorough “risk/benefit” analysis.  Yes, there are risks associated with medications used to treat obesity but are those risks more than allowing the weight to stay on?

Please do not ever forget the “side effects” (more properly “co-morbidities”) of poor weight control.  They are not “worth” the immediate gratification food and drink items that derail your efforts.

And, we all gotta admit that some of these pharmaceutical companies have some catchy ads running with some great songs.  We have all heard the Ozempic commercials playing off the Pilots’ 1970’s tune “Magic”.  Enjoy!