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Newer drugs may help treat obesity. Can they even eliminate stigma?


Dr. Kushner is more optimistic and points to the example of statins, which lower cholesterol and became available in the late 1980s. Until then, doctors could only suggest that patients with high cholesterol reduce eggs and red meat.

The doctors “embraced statins,” Drs. Kushner said, because they could cure the condition. More potent incretins, he noted, can have similar effects on the medical profession.

However, he is uncertain whether patients will accept the disease label. He said, he has been conditioned to believe that his weight is his own fault; All they have to do is eat healthy and exercise more.

While talking with patients, he does not spend 20 minutes trying to convince them that he has a disease. In fact, he deliberately refrains from using the word “disease” and instead calls it “condition” or “problem”.

“I tell them that this is a chronic ongoing medical problem, just like diabetes,” he said.

Members of the general public present a different challenge, Dr. Kushner said. With them, he said, “We may need to use a word like ‘disease’.”

He compares the situation to alcohol or drug addiction, which was once thought to be a sign of weak will or moral failure. Researchers have successfully changed the conversation; Many people now know that people who abuse alcohol or drugs have a disease and need treatment.

For Ms. Greenleaf, she wants to take semaglutide again. The pounds returned when the test was over.

Obesity, she now realizes, “is not your fault.”



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