Illustrative image for Anti obesity Medications Ethical Policy and Public Health Concerns

Hastings Center Report

Anti-obesity Medications: Ethical, Policy, and Public Health Concerns

Abstract: New anti-obesity medications (AOMs) have received widespread acclaim in medical journals and the media, but they also raise critical ethical, public health, and public policy concerns that have largely been ignored. AOMs are very costly, need to be taken by a patient in perpetuity (since significant rebound weight gain otherwise occurs), and threaten to shift resources and focus away from other crucial efforts at obesity treatment and prevention. Many people may feel less motivated to exercise or reduce their caloric consumption, if they assume that obesity is now medically treatable. Policy-makers may similarly come to feel that the solution to the obesity pandemic is simply to prescribe medications and that prevention efforts are far less necessary. These drugs raise concerns about justice (since AOMs will disproportionately benefit the wealthy), medicalization, and marketing. Policy-makers, clinicians, and others need to engage in multipronged educational and policy efforts to address these challenges.

Read the Article