Just over a year ago, an investor pitched me a promising project centered on weight-loss pills, emphasizing the lucrative trend ahead.
Indeed, in the last year, demand for these medications has skyrocketed worldwide. And if you need a testament to their popularity, look no further than TikTok. The #Ozempic hashtag, one of the blockbuster names on the market, has a staggering 1.3 billion views.
The market is vast and forever fueled by people chasing after the “perfect” body. The nature of weight management often means that medications are taken consistently, leading to repeat purchases and a steady revenue stream. From a purely financial standpoint, diving into this venture promises significant returns on investment. Isn’t that the end goal? Profit?
I don’t think so. Business is about delivering genuine value to customers and positively transforming their lives. Profit is a by-product.
As a health coach, CEO, and founder of a wellness company that serves more than 150 million users, I believe that a healthy lifestyle is the foundation of a good life. The value we aim to create for our customers is to make well-being accessible and affordable.
While weight-loss medications undoubtedly hold potential for severe obesity cases, their promotion as “wonder” pills to add to the wellness routine is concerning. My reservations about joining the weight-loss pill bandwagon are manifold, and these are the top three reasons.
1. Limited research and side effects
The side effects of weight-loss medications can be far from magical. Dry mouth, nervousness, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, and the list goes on. A recent study from the University of British Columbia has linked some popular weight-loss medications to an increased risk of digestive issues.
Many of these drugs are still new to the scene, with not enough long-term studies on their safety and effectiveness. Diet pills like Hydroxycut or fen-phen once began with the FDA’s approval, only to be withdrawn later due to severe complications.
The potential liabilities for unforeseen effects are not only costly but also damaging to brand reputation.
2. Potential misuse and mental well-being implications
Kim Kardashian never confirmed that she used Ozempic to fit into Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress. However, such stories highlight the ethical side of promoting weight-loss solutions.
Using diet pills to size down on a dress for a special occasion or to lose a few kilos for a vacation is already pretty alarming. But they can be misused in more dangerous ways: upping the dosage without a doctor’s consultation, mixing pills with laxatives, or combining different diet pills, all to amplify the weight-loss effect.
It’s usually the most vulnerable—those struggling with body image issues—who suffer the most. For them, overreliance on diet pills can further reinforce their already existing unhealthy habits and eating patterns. This is not something I want my business to be responsible for.
3. A short-term solution to a long-term problem
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity affects four out of 10 Americans. These statistics are grueling, and the numbers are rising every year. Turning to pills as a remedy risks oversimplifying the problem and shifting the focus from seeking more holistic and sustainable approaches.
We need to focus on advocating for sustained lifestyle changes, including a balanced diet and regular physical activity, and preventing obesity in the first place. Prevention is better than cure, but the promotion of quick fixes can push a different narrative.
The magic glow of weight-loss pills shouldn’t outshine these simple truths:
- Health is an invaluable asset worth investing time and effort in
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is not a quick win
- Medications are not a substitute for healthy lifestyle changes
- Quick fixes, like fad diets and medications, rarely yield lasting results
- Small, consistent lifestyle tweaks can spark a lasting transformation
Weight-loss medication investment trends will undeniably keep evolving. In fact, analysts at Goldman Sachs Group estimate the market for these products might hit $100 billion by 2030.
The weight-loss pills project might have been a real gold mine, just like the investor suggested. But next-generation business leaders know that no amount of potential profit should make you compromise your values. Our businesses are more than just numbers on a ledger. They are people, the communities we’re a part of, and the broader society we impact.
Victoria Repa is the founder and CEO of BetterMe.