WeightWatchers offering new plan that includes prescription weight loss drugs

Denise Dador Image
Friday, January 12, 2024
WeightWatchers' new plan includes weight loss drugs like Ozempic
WeightWatchers says its GLP-1 program that offers weight loss medications like Ozempic and Rybelsus is a paradigm shift in treating obesity.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Watching what you eat, exercising and counting points has been the way customers on WeightWatchers have been shedding pounds for years. But now, there's a new tool they can add.

It's been a month since the company started offering popular weight loss drugs, giving people a new option to help them lose weight.

Melanie Ressa, 32, says she's struggled with her weight her whole life.

When she first joined WeightWatchers in 2021, Melanie lost 60 pounds. But when the chaos of life kicked back in, she said things changed.

"I reverted back to a lot of those habits that were comforting to me which was eating. So stress eating and emotional eating," Ressa said.

Ressa gained back half the weight she had lost.

"That's when I kind of switched over to the GLP-1 Plan," she said.

It's a newer option that WeightWatchers offers.

"When you think of obesity as a biological disease or condition, you've got to start thinking about using biological tools to help more people," said Dr. Spencer Nadolsky. the medical director for WeightWatchers.

Nadolsky said the company's new program which offers the latest anti-obesity meds is a paradigm shift. It involves treating obesity as an illness rather than simply a lack of willpower.

"They feel like it's a moral failing. And now we think of it differently, like, hey, this is biological, it's not your fault," Nadolsky said.

Semaglutide drugs like Wegovy and Zepbound mimic a naturally-occurring hormone that works with the brain to suppress appetite.

Ressa says it's helped reduce the "food noise" in her head.

"It has been so life changing for me," she said.

But she says people shouldn't think of it as a "magic pill." "

That's not the case, you still have to work the program and have healthy lifestyles," she explained.

Weightwatchers offers a lifestyle guidance program for those already taking anti-obesity meds prescribed from their own doctor.

WeightWatchers members may also be eligible to receive Ozempic and Rybelsus and other Type 2 diabetes drugs often prescribed off label to treat obesity.

"We have a whole prior authorization team that helps you jump through the hoops of insurance, because that's really one of the big issues," Nadolsky said.

Common side effects include nausea, injection site reactions and headache.

For access to clinicians who can prescribe weight loss medications, WeightWatchers members pay a $99 monthly fee, which does not include the price of the drugs.

Medication costs vary depending on a person's insurance.

Just because these popular weight loss drugs are now an option, it doesn't mean it's for everyone.

Stephanie De La Torre, 38, has been battling weight gain for 12 years. She's a true believer of the company's traditional point system combined with peer support. She says what works for her may not work for somebody else.

But De La Torre appreciates the new weight loss tools, which she believes is a win for everyone.

"They give us choices to make and it's our own personal choice to take it," she said.

Ressa says anti-obesity meds made the holidays much easier for her to navigate.

For 2024, her top goal is to create a new self-care mindset.

"I'm a lot kinder to other people than I ever have been to myself", she said. "And I really want to try and be nice to myself. I deserve it."

MORE: As many struggle with weight, more doctors turn to weight loss drugs

Experts say nearly three quarters of Americans are struggling with their weight and many people are now using a medication originally intended to help with another issue. Lately, it's been gaining more widespread acceptance.