Thanksgiving Celebrations Altered: The Impact of Novel Anti-Obesity Medications

by Ryan Lee
Anti-obesity medications Thanksgiving

Gone are the days when overeating at Thanksgiving, a holiday synonymous with indulgence in food, was a source of guilt for many. This change is particularly evident in individuals like Stearns, a 65-year-old resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, who has experienced a significant transformation after losing nearly 100 pounds. This weight loss is attributed to her use of Wegovy, an innovative anti-obesity medication. Stearns recounts how last year’s Thanksgiving was refreshingly different, focusing more on the joy of being with loved ones rather than the usual preoccupation with food.

This shift in perspective is becoming increasingly common among Americans battling obesity, especially with the advent of new weight-loss drugs. These medications are altering not just dietary choices but also the fundamental relationship with food.

These drugs, initially developed for diabetes treatment, such as semaglutide (found in Ozempic and Wegovy) and tirzepatide (in Mounjaro and Zepbound), are now being repurposed for weight loss. Administered weekly, they imitate potent hormones that regulate appetite and satiety, potentially leading to a weight reduction of 15% to 25%. Dr. Michael Schwartz, a metabolism, diabetes, and obesity specialist, notes that these drugs diminish the rewarding aspects of food. For Stearns, this means enjoying a few bites of Thanksgiving pie without the urge to overindulge.

However, these changes come with cultural and religious implications, as they modify the experience of holidays traditionally centered around food. Joe Sapone, a 64-year-old retiree from New Jersey who lost about 100 pounds, echoes this sentiment. The challenge lies in dissociating food consumption from the enjoyment of social gatherings.

While many users appreciate the increased control over their dietary choices during emotionally laden occasions like the holiday season, others experience diminished appetites or adverse effects that detract from the joy of eating. Dr. Katherine Saunders of Weill Cornell Medicine points out that while some patients miss the pleasure of eating, most who opt for these treatments are burdened by chronic obesity and welcome the reduced food cravings and the consequent weight loss.

Nevertheless, discontinuing the medication often leads to a return of appetite and rapid weight gain. An early study showed that two-thirds of patients stopped using these weight-loss drugs within a year, possibly due to cost and supply issues. Dr. Jens Juul Holst of the University of Copenhagen raises a fundamental question about altering a basic human drive like appetite: How long can one endure the loss of pleasure in eating?

The long-term impact and ethical considerations of these medications remain a topic of discussion in the medical community, as highlighted by Holst at a recent international diabetes conference.

This article is brought to you by the Big Big News Health and Science Department with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP maintains full editorial responsibility for the content.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Anti-obesity medications Thanksgiving

How are new anti-obesity medications affecting Thanksgiving eating habits?

New anti-obesity medications, such as Wegovy and Mounjaro, are changing how individuals perceive and engage with food during Thanksgiving. Users report a significant decrease in the desire to overeat, focusing more on the joy of the occasion rather than the food itself. This shift is attributed to the way these medications regulate appetite and satiety.

What are the main types of new weight-loss drugs mentioned?

The main types of new weight-loss drugs discussed are semaglutide, used in Ozempic and Wegovy, and tirzepatide, found in Mounjaro and Zepbound. These drugs, originally developed for diabetes, are now being used to treat obesity by mimicking hormones that control appetite.

What are the cultural and religious implications of these medications?

The use of these medications has cultural and religious implications, particularly during festive and food-centric holidays like Thanksgiving. They alter the traditional experience of these holidays, as the focus shifts away from food, impacting how these celebrations are observed and enjoyed.

What are the potential side effects of these anti-obesity drugs?

Users of these anti-obesity drugs may experience side effects such as reduced appetite or gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These side effects can diminish the pleasure derived from eating, which can be particularly noticeable during holiday meals.

What happens when users stop taking these weight-loss medications?

When users discontinue these weight-loss medications, their appetite typically returns, often leading to rapid weight regain. Studies indicate that a significant portion of users stop taking these drugs within a year, due to factors like cost, supply issues, or the loss of enjoyment in eating.

More about Anti-obesity medications Thanksgiving

  • Wegovy and its effects on weight loss
  • Impact of obesity medications on festive meals
  • Cultural implications of reduced appetite from anti-obesity drugs
  • Side effects of new weight-loss drugs
  • Long-term use and discontinuation of obesity medications

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Tom H November 21, 2023 - 4:10 am

Good read! But what about the long term effects? if people stop taking these meds do they just gain all the weight back, seems a bit worrying…

Sara K November 21, 2023 - 5:12 am

Kinda sad tho, to think that some people might not enjoy their holiday meals the same way because of these drugs. It’s a big part of our culture, you know?

Emma B November 21, 2023 - 8:37 am

I’m on one of these drugs and honestly, it’s been life-changing, I don’t obsess over food anymore and holidays are more about family now, not just eating.

Mike Johnson November 21, 2023 - 12:01 pm

Really interesting article, didn’t know that these meds could change the way people think about food so much, especially during holidays like Thanksgiving.


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