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- The basketball legend recently gained attention for announcing his remarkable 60-pound weight loss in half a year while using weight loss medications.
- While this is an impressive achievement, experts caution that individual reactions to the drug can vary.
- Moreover, experts highlight the absence of long-term data on these drugs.
Charles Barkley, a former NBA Hall of Famer and current broadcaster, recently discussed how he achieved significant weight loss by taking the medication Mounjaro.
Mounjaro is originally designed to manage diabetes, but Barkley is utilizing it as part of his weight loss journey.
Barkley joins a group of celebrities, including Elon Musk and Chelsea Handler, who have employed Mounjaro and similar medications like Ozempic for weight loss.
Barkley detailed his weight loss during an interview on the Dan Patrick show in May, revealing that he went from weighing 352 lbs in January to approximately 290 lbs.
“At some point, I need to discontinue the medication, but I feel so physically well that I want to ensure I don’t regain the weight. You don’t fully realize how terrible you feel until you begin losing weight,” Barkley expressed on the show.
Pearlman acknowledged that Barkley’s weight loss was significant but not inherently unhealthy.
“I believe it truly depends on a person’s starting point. So, if we have a patient who weighs 150 pounds and they rapidly lose a third of their body weight, that would be very drastic,” Pearlman commented. “But if someone has a significant amount of weight to lose, the absolute number might sound substantial, but for their specific body, it may not be as significant as perceived.”
Pearlman emphasized that each individual is unique and may respond differently to weight loss medications.
“Therefore, 60 pounds in six months is definitely a fairly rapid pace. However, we generally advise people to aim for losing one to two pounds per week, consistently, although each person’s body is different,” Pearlman explained.
Pearlman quickly pointed out that being aware of these medications does not automatically make someone a suitable candidate for them.
“If I have a patient who wants to consume a bottle of wine, indulge in a large steak dinner, and consume 2,000 calories at 10 o’clock at night, and they think the medication will make them feel well and still enable weight loss without altering these dietary habits, then they are not a suitable candidate,” Pearlman cautioned.
In the case of Mounjaro, possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, and similar symptoms. Even among individuals using medications like Ozempic for their original purpose of treating type 2 diabetes, dietitians such as Regan recommend specific strategies.
“If you are taking this drug to manage blood sugar, you will still likely experience many of the same side effects. However, we need to focus more on practical eating and ensure you consume enough food, even if your appetite is decreased and you do not feel excessively hungry, as this drug alters your hunger and fullness cues,” Regan explained.
Wegovy gained FDA approval as a weight loss aid in 2021. Meanwhile, Mounjaro aims to receive the same designation by the end of this year.
Dr. Mir Ali emphasizes that achieving sustained weight loss is challenging without considering overall health. The ideal approach depends on an individual’s lifestyle and needs.
“Numerous options exist for weight loss: for those who meet the criteria, surgery is the most effective option; there are also alternative medications besides Ozempic available for weight loss; nutritional counseling to facilitate adopting a healthier lifestyle may also prove effective for some patients, particularly those with a modest amount of weight to lose,” Dr. Ali stated.
Dr. Ali also mentioned the issue of availability, as insurance companies rarely cover such medications, leading to shortages and associated costs. This lack of accessibility and affordability is also a concern observed by Pearlman in her practice in Florida.
“If patients end up paying $1,500 per month, there is a significant difference between using it for six months versus taking it for 10 years… and there is a major supply-demand problem. Consequently, I sometimes encounter delays in therapy due to the difficulty of finding the medication at pharmacies,” Pearlman added.
Pearlman also stressed the need to consider the absence of long-term data for drugs like these.
“Regarding Ozempic and diabetes, we have data, but most patients continue taking the medication because they still have diabetes. Weight management is somewhat different. We simply lack the long-term data to determine how long people should take these medications. Is it an indefinite requirement or for several years? That remains unknown,” Pearlman concluded.