SHIFT IT | Episode 18

The Impact of Weight Loss Medications like Ozempic with Dr Terri-Lynne South

In a recent interview with Dr. Terri-Lynne South, Chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) – Specific Interest in Obesity Medicine, we delved into the transformative effects of GLP-1 agonists on weight management. Dr. South’s insights shed light on how these medications have revolutionised the landscape of obesity treatment, offering hope and effective solutions to individuals struggling with chronic obesity.

Dr. South’s journey into the field of medicine started with a passion for science and a desire to make a difference. Her extensive experience as a dietitian and later as a medical doctor equipped her with a unique perspective on the complexities of metabolic health conditions, including obesity. Drawing from personal and professional experiences, Dr. South emphasised the importance of education and awareness in addressing the evolving understanding of obesity as a chronic, complex health condition.

The interview highlighted the evolution of weight management medications, tracing back to the early days of amphetamine-like drugs to more recent breakthroughs in GLP-1 agonists. Dr. South discussed how GLP-1 injectables, initially developed for type 2 diabetes management, showcased remarkable potential for weight loss as a side effect. The emergence of medications like Semaglutide marked a significant milestone, offering enhanced efficacy in obesity care, with potential weight loss reaching up to 20-22%.

What sets GLP-1 agonists apart is their multifaceted approach to weight control. Dr. South explained how these medications not only suppress appetite but also promote feelings of fullness and influence food choices. Additionally, they exhibit positive metabolic effects beyond weight loss, offering potential benefits for cardiovascular health, fatty liver disease, and even alcohol dependence.

However, amidst the optimism surrounding GLP-1 agonists, Dr. South highlighted the importance of understanding their pros and cons. While these medications demonstrate effectiveness for many individuals, responses can vary, and side effects like nausea and constipation may occur, particularly in the short term. Moreover, access and cost remain significant barriers, with limited availability through government subsidies.

Addressing concerns about long-term use, Dr. South emphasised the chronic nature of obesity as a medical condition, advocating for lifelong treatment with GLP-1 agonists for appropriate candidates. She underscored the need for holistic approaches, combining medication with lifestyle modifications to optimise health outcomes.

Furthermore, Dr. South provided valuable insights into considerations for special populations, such as women of childbearing age and individuals undergoing surgical procedures. She emphasised the importance of informed decision-making and collaboration between patients and healthcare professionals in navigating treatment options.

In conclusion, the interview with Dr. Terri-Lynne South highlighted the transformative impact of GLP-1 agonists in obesity treatment. These medications represent a significant advancement in medical science, offering new hope and opportunities for individuals struggling with obesity. However, it is crucial to approach their use thoughtfully, considering individual needs, and adopting a comprehensive approach to achieve long-term success in weight management.