A recent study conducted at the Cleveland Clinic has shed light on the challenges associated with the long-term use of anti-obesity medications.
The research found that only 19% of study participants continued to use these medications one year after their initial prescriptions, highlighting the need for a better understanding of the factors influencing treatment adherence.
Obesity is a prevalent and chronic disease with numerous contributing factors. In the United States, over 41% of adults are affected by obesity, which significantly increases the risk of serious health complications like cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Recent advancements have led to FDA-approved medications, such as glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, for chronic weight management, offering effective treatments for obesity.
However, there is limited information available about the long-term usage of these medications, and discontinuation often results in weight regain and reduced health benefits.
The Cleveland Clinic study had two primary objectives. First, it examined the continued use of anti-obesity medications at three, six, and twelve months.
Second, the researchers investigated the factors associated with the continuity of treatment at the one-year mark.
The findings revealed that 44% of participants continued to fill their anti-obesity medication prescriptions at three months, 33% at six months, but only 19% at twelve months, indicating a decline in adherence.
The study involved 1,911 adult participants with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater who initiated FDA-approved anti-obesity medications between 2015 and 2022.
The research considered various factors, including sociodemographic variables and health insurance coverage, while analyzing electronic health records from Cleveland Clinic locations in Ohio and Florida.
One significant finding was that the type of anti-obesity medication prescribed had a notable impact on long-term adherence. Participants who received semaglutide were more likely to continue treatment, with 40% still filling their prescriptions at one year.
In contrast, those receiving older-generation anti-obesity medications like naltrexone-bupropion showed a lower adherence rate, with only 10% continuing treatment at one year.
Additionally, the study found that increased weight loss at six months was associated with higher odds of long-term medication use at twelve months.
This suggests that the effectiveness of the medication and early weight loss outcomes play a crucial role in determining whether individuals will adhere to treatment in the long term.
Moreover, the study examined the influence of health insurance providers, particularly for privately insured participants.
It was observed that the insurance carrier had an impact on long-term medication use, highlighting the potential role of insurance coverage in treatment continuity.
Dr. Hamlet Gasoyan, the study’s lead author, emphasized that while the long-term use of anti-obesity medications remains relatively low, the findings offer insights into factors linked to increased adherence.
Patients who receive more effective anti-obesity medications and experience significant weight loss at six months are more likely to continue their treatment.
This study underscores the complexities surrounding long-term obesity management and the need for a multifaceted approach that considers medication effectiveness, early weight loss outcomes, and health insurance coverage to improve treatment adherence among obese individuals.
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The research findings can be found in Obesity.
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