Many Americans with obesity missing out on treatment, despite more options

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Obesity is a major issue in the United States, affecting both adults and children. Not only is it a health condition on its own, but it also leads to other serious problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart diseases.

Kyrian Ezendu, an advisor at Eli Lilly and Company, says that medications for treating obesity are crucial for long-term care.

However, new research shows that a lot of people who could benefit from these treatments are not getting them.

The Numbers: Who’s Getting Diagnosed and Treated?

Researchers examined health records and insurance claims from 2016 to 2021 for adults aged 18 to 80.

They looked at people who were eligible for obesity medications like phentermine-topiramate, lorcaserin, orlistat, naltrexone-bupropion, liraglutide, and semaglutide.

Each year, there were about 1.6 to 2.2 million adults who could have been treated with these medications.

Interestingly, while the number of obesity diagnoses has gone up over the years, it’s still not where it should be. In 2016, only about 39% of these people were diagnosed according to both health records and insurance claims.

By 2021, that number had risen to 57%. But when you look at insurance claims alone, less than half were diagnosed both in 2016 and 2021.

For people with overweight issues, the diagnosis rates also increased but were still not high enough. The rates went from 18% in 2016 to 31% in 2021.

What’s even more surprising is how few of these people are actually getting prescribed medications.

The study found that only 0.4% to 0.5% of the eligible adults were prescribed anti-obesity medications between 2016 and 2021. There was a tiny increase in prescriptions filled, from 0.4% in 2016 to 0.6% in 2021.

What This Means: A Gap in Healthcare

Ezendu points out that these low numbers show a significant gap in healthcare for people with obesity and those who are overweight.

He argues that doctors should be doing a better job at diagnosing these conditions, especially now that there are several FDA-approved medications that can help.

Even though more medications are becoming available, the people who need them most aren’t getting them. This not only hurts their health in the short term but also risks leading to more severe health issues down the line.

It’s a wakeup call for healthcare providers to improve diagnosis and treatment plans for obesity, one of the most pressing public health issues facing America today.

If you care about obesity, please read studies about A new hero in the fight against obesity: tirzepatide and findings of New drug offers hope for obesity and diabetes treatment.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome, and results showing eggs in a plant-based diet may benefit people with type 2 diabetes.

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