The idea of a shot to lose weight is making waves this week, and for some very good reasons. This is a very disruptive idea in the current ideological battle over fatness and fitness.
To quote the FDA:
Wegovy works by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake. The medication dose must be increased gradually over 16 to 20 weeks to 2.4 mg once weekly to reduce gastrointestinal side effects.
Semaglutide (the actual name of the hormone) ends up acting as an apatite suppressant. This is nothing new; amphetamines were used en masse (and worked!) 50 years ago. What is new is the idea that this drug could be not only mass-prescribed but underwritten by the government through Medicare and other insurance schemes.
Let me give my thoughts on a few points:
- The truth is most people cannot diet and exercise with enough discipline over a long enough time to permanently change their bodies. It can take YEARS to go from obese to a healthy weight while maintaining a new, difficult lifestyle. If they could, they would.
- The “fitness industry” is already heavily into medicalized body modification. Anabolic steroids are combined with stimulants and hormones (like T-3, Clen) to cut fat for bodybuilding competitions. Most models are NOT natty. There should be no reasonable objection.
- A drug intervention is likely cheaper than bariatric surgery with about the same results; we don’t know the long-term effects of Wegovy, but I imagine it’s the same with every other intervention, where the weight comes back after a while. However, it’s low-cost to try compared to surgery.
- This obviously does not address the root of obesity in our culture. People were less fat in the past without having to ever think about it.
- I honestly don’t know how the fat acceptance movement will respond. Most fat-acceptance types, I believe, would secretly jump at a drug that would make them lose weight. It’s not fun living in a too-large body, no matter what the propaganda says about it. Notice the marketing targets the idea that it “isn’t your fault.”
- The overall cost to society to mass-use the drug is probably less than dealing with the medical costs of obesity, which include more medication and much more expensive surgeries long-term.
With point #2 above, maybe we should be mass-using anabolic steroids, at least with reasonable dosages and medical oversight. The fitness industry has already figured out medical muscle. Giving an overweight person a cycle of steroids could permanently boost their metabolism (you keep about 1/2 the gains after going off—rule of thumb) and make it harder to over-eat long term. You can combine that with other drugs to get him to a healthy weight, and it’s much easier to maintain weight than it is to lose it. Steroids are seen as cheating in competitive sports, but we’re talking about rebuilding a dysfunctional body. It’s interesting that the medical establishment doesn’t seriously consider this route.
You can get my latest book, Demon Ex Machina, about demons and AI art, by joining my mailing list here.
Very thoughtful comments and reflections.
I’m curious as to why the medical industry does not consider the mass production of anabolic steroids as you mention. Did you have a theory about that?
I couldn’t tell you why except that they have been demonized by use in competitive sports, and that spills over into a general objection. For whatever reason in the prevailing industry the only “ethical” use is for people with muscle wasting or who need “replacement” therapy.
To quote (well, paraphrase since I can’t find the actual quote) the great Charlie Harper: “Baseball was better on steroids. The guy now leading the league has ten homeruns. Back then that was a slow weekend…”
I’m on my second week. So far no effect whatsoever but the dosage is still minimal. The problem is the supply which outside the US is both minimal and obscenely expensive and not covered by any insurance. Don’t think less of me for doing it…
The whole point of this post is that I don’t think less of people who use it. Fitness models use 10X that amount of gear to get lean!