Do Drug Makers Tell It Like It Is? Part 3

Many articles about the GLP-1 drugs share a similar trait, namely the invention or use of verbiage that doesn’t quite mean what it seems to. Here is a sample. For Mother Jones, Jackie Flynn Mogensen wrote,

Researchers now know that childhood obesity is a result of genetic, socioeconomic, and environmental factors, not a personal choice. “It’s not a situation of gluttony,” says Mary Savoye, associate director of pediatric obesity at the Yale School of Medicine. “It’s actually a complex disease.”

Yet somehow, the American Academy of Pediatrics saw fit to give the nod to weight-loss drugs for kids as young as 12, a recommendation that Mogensen jokes “nearly broke the Internet.”

Just for starters, did the pharmaceutical companies involved divulge the staggering amount of accumulated evidence that, in order for their potions to be effective, the brand-new teenager will need to shoot up once a week for the rest of her or his life?

Slippery words

One of the guidelines’ authors, past AAP president Sandra Hassink, talks about lifestyle therapy, like conscious eating and a generous amount of exercise, as designed to “push back” against unhealthy environments. Then there are the “adjuncts”, drugs and surgery. Strictly speaking, that term doesn’t mean an alternative.

An adjunct is a thing added to something else, as a supplementary part, rather than an essential one. Another authority says an adjunct is something added or connected to something larger or more important. So, grammatically speaking, the implication here would be that changes in diet and exercise are the essential, larger, and more important factors. Another adjunct would be intensive behavioral counseling, which…

[…] typically takes place at an academic medical center. It often involves weekly sessions on exercise, nutrition education, support group sessions for parents, and conversations with kids about things like self-esteem and bullying.

Dr. Thomas Robinson, a professor of pediatrics and of medicine at Stanford University who leads a behavior change program for families, estimates there are fewer than one to two dozen lifestyle programs like his across the country, and almost all aren’t covered by public or private insurance.

In the eyes of some critics, rather than bestir itself to demand more of these highly effective behavioral change programs for families, the AAP appears all too ready to inject drugs into adolescent humans. In either case, the help is very expensive.

Most members of the Black and Latino populations find both family therapy and weight-control pharmaceuticals beyond their reach. They and others tend to have higher obesity rates and lower bank balances than Euro-Americans. When people who most need treatment for obesity are least able to afford it, this systemic flaw does not nurture the ideal of health equity.

Another treatment that almost nobody can afford is bariatric surgery. According to some reports, that route can involve a patient in bizarre scenarios, like being told they aren’t quite fat enough yet, so go ahead and pile on some more pounds in order to qualify.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Should Insurers Cover Kids’ Obesity Drugs?,”, May 2023
Image by poppet with a camera/CC BY 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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