Move Over Wegovy—a Plant-Based Diet May Be a Better Answer for Weight Loss
If you are thinking of taking Wegovy (semaglutide) for weight loss, a healthy plant-based diet may offer better long-term success, according to a new commentary in the American Journal of Medicine.
Apart from common side effects (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and heartburn)—plus rarer, but more serious risks (pancreatitis, bowel obstruction, and possibly thyroid cancer)—Wegovy is pricey. The $15,600 annual cost is not covered by most insurance plans. If it is, chances are that everyone’s premiums go up—by an estimated $14.50 per month for every 1% of subscribers using the drug, according to Prime Therapeutics. If you stop paying, that lost weight comes back.
In contrast, using plant-based foods—like replacing meat sauce with tomato sauce on spaghetti or replacing meat chili with bean chili—causes significant weight loss and has only good side effects: lower cholesterol, healthier blood pressure, and improved athletic performance. Studies of long-term vegans show body weights averaging 35 pounds below those of their still-meat-eating friends. In contrast to Wegovy’s price tag, a vegan diet saves about 16% (about $500 annually) on food bills.
“A plant-based—or vegan—diet could be just what the doctor ordered: powerful for weight loss and easy to sustain,” says Neal Barnard, MD, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and lead author on the new commentary. “Evidence suggests it may be the easiest, safest, and, over the long run, most effective path to a healthy weight.”
Although a vegan diet is already known to be effective for weight loss, Dr. Barnard calls for more research, including the long-term benefits of dietary changes in various population groups.
For most people, going vegan is a simple matter. Those looking for the guidance of a registered dietitian can find one at PreferredDietitianReferral.org. This service, and the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart app, are both free.
The new commentary appeared online in the American Journal of Medicine.
Barnard ND, Kahleova H. For Appetite Control, Drugs vs Diet. Am J Med. 2023 Dec 2:S0002-9343(23)00736-2. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2023.11.015. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38049023.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.