Survey: Living with obesity in the time of GLP-1s
Did you know that the majority of people with obesity who have heard of GLP-1s are interested in treatment with them? Is it surprising that more than half of people with obesity would be willing to take medication for the rest of their lives to maintain their ideal body weight?
Ro partnered with the Obesity Action Coalition to survey people with obesity across the country to understand more about their weight loss journeys, motivations to address their health, plus how they feel about new GLP-1 medications.
Health is the primary driver for weight loss
Everyone deserves to feel confident in the way they look – but losing weight often isn’t only about outward appearances. In fact, our survey revealed that the primary motivations for people with obesity (defined as a BMI greater than 30) to lose weight are most often their health and quality of life.
"I want to keep my cholesterol down, I want to make sure my blood pressure is down….This would be a huge benefit for my overall health.”
Ro patient and ambassador*
*not a survey participant
Improved health is one reason, among others, that many people with obesity are interested in losing a significant amount of weight.
The majority of people with obesity want to lose 20% or more of their body weight
Dr. Rachel Goldman
Licensed Psychologist, Assistant Clinical Professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and Ro advisor
“Whenever a patient tells me that they want to lose weight, I follow that up by asking ‘why’. I'm looking for their motivating factor. It’s not really about the number on the scale, but rather each individual’s ‘why’. It’s important to know what that motivating factor is because at one point or another, everyone loses momentum and has to go back to that ‘why’ in order to follow through on their plans to achieve their goals.”
There are no expectations of a ‘quick fix’ just better support
Despite the strong health incentives for people with obesity to lose weight, research has shown that it’s rarely easy to do so, especially on a first attempt. Our survey illustrates this reality, detailing the experiences–and lack of satisfaction–people with obesity have when trying to lose weight.
"I'm just not sure what's going on with my body. I feel like I do all the right things—I work out, I eat healthy but I continue to gain weight...I have struggled with my weight for most of my life."
Ro patient and ambassador*
*not a survey participant
Repeated efforts aren’t enough to dampen people’s commitment to losing weight. People with obesity often said that they would be willing to stick to a long-term plan, whether diet, exercise, or treatment, to maintain their ideal body weight.
People with obesity are committed to reaching and maintaining their ideal weight
President and CEO of the OAC
“People with obesity often blame themselves when they do not respond to a treatment, and in return, feel like a failure. We need to recognize that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treating this disease. People diagnosed with obesity deserve access to safe and effective care.”
Future of work: How people with obesity feel about their jobs and the workplace
Healthcare experiences leave much to be desired
Though progress has been made de-stigmatizing mental and sexual health, bias based on weight is still very much alive. Respondents said they frequently experience this in their day-to-day lives as well as in the healthcare system.
People living with obesity continue to face stigma and judgment due to their weight
While people with obesity have had poor experiences with the healthcare system, there may be opportunities for improvement such as: greater acceptance of obesity as a chronic condition and the possibility of seeking care through telehealth.
Dr. Beverly Tchang
Endocrinologist, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, Ro advisor
“From long wait times to being stigmatized during a doctor’s visit, the widening imbalance between the number of people who need obesity care and the number of board-certified doctors who are educated and available to deliver it is bad for patients. Telehealth is one way to scale the kind of accessible, high-quality, and stigma-free care that patients are looking for.”
GLP-1s are drawing interest, but questions remain
It seems like GLP-1s are everywhere, from headlines to TV ads – even at the Oscars. Our survey dug in to determine how much people know about these new obesity treatment options.
Two thirds (68%) of people with obesity have heard of at least one GLP-1 medication, with most holding a neutral opinion (46%) or positive association (41%) of the treatment. Ozempic (a GLP-1 that is not FDA-approved for weight loss) had the highest brand recognition, with 48% of people with obesity having heard of it, compared to just 10% with Wegovy (a GLP-1 that is FDA-approved for weight loss). See Important Safety Information here
People with obesity were nearly 5x as likely to have heard of Ozempic than Wegovy
While headlines talk about GLP-1s as a TikTok trend, people with obesity most commonly hear about GLP-1s on television as well from healthcare providers.
Founder of ConscienHealth and Ro advisor
"I'm impressed that so many people, at various levels, are familiar with GLP-1 medicines. The real challenge moving forward will be for people to gain a realistic understanding of how these medications may help them with their long-term health goals."
Among those who have heard of GLP-1s, interest in trying the treatment for weight loss is high. Those who are interested have already tried to lose weight in other ways and are interested in finding something to help them lose weight and maintain it for the long term.
Nearly everyone with obesity who is interested in GLP-1s for weight loss has tried to lose weight in the past 5 years
It’s not just about losing a few pounds
It’s not just about looking for a quick fix
Notably, our survey showed that even among those interested in trying GLP-1 medications to lose weight, these treatments are not replacing other weight loss methods.
Dr. Caroline Apovian
Co-Director, Center for Weight Management and Wellness, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
"The second generation of Anti-Obesity agents (AOMs) are finally giving hope to many people afflicted with obesity that treatment is effective and most importantly safe for chronic use. The challenge now is to allow access to treatment for those eligible (over 42% of American adults), in order to eventually decrease the burden in health care dollars in the future due to the complications of obesity."
While GLP-1s are piquing people’s interest, some still have questions or are skeptical about gaining access to the treatments.
The survey was fielded with market respondents from a third party panel of 1,022 total participants of which 53% were living with obesity (BMI >30). Respondents were adults (18+) nationally representative of race and age with 62% female and 37% male. Respondents are not known to be current Ro patients, and were provided incentives for participating in the survey.
This report is intended for educational purposes only. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider.