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The Weight Loss Market in 2024: 3 Key Questions We Can No Longer Ignore

In 2024, the weight loss market finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with pivotal questions that will shape the future. The winners will prioritize affordable lifelong care, scalable coaching and support, and a diverse set of solutions that give people second and third chances along their weight loss journeys.

GLP-1 medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro have ushered in a new era for the weight loss market in 2024 and surfaced several questions that have been festering for quite some time and can no longer be ignored. Answering these questions is the key to unlocking the $100 billion market opportunity that analysts are calling for and more importantly, delivering sustainable results that scale and can actually satisfy the needs of millions of people around the globe struggling with their weight.

How can we provide lifelong care without breaking the bank?

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A Deep-dive Into Specialty Pharma

A specialty drug is a class of prescription medications used to treat complex, chronic or rare medical conditions. Although this classification was originally intended to define the treatment of rare, also termed “orphan” diseases, affecting fewer than 200,000 people in the US, more recently, specialty drugs have emerged as the cornerstone of treatment for chronic and complex diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS.

One pressing concern that GLP-1s have surfaced is the sustainability of lifelong care at an affordable price. Let’s be honest: at today’s prices, providing lifelong care with GLP-1s—which is absolutely necessary, since appetite returns with a vengeance after stopping—would break the bank. Short of negotiating fair pricing with pharmaceutical companies, advocating for insurance coverage, or developing generic versions of GLP-1s—all of which will arguably take several years at minimum—the focus should be on providing cost-effective and sustainable solutions that can lead to long-term weight loss, with or without GLP-1s. People can, and do, lose weight without expensive therapies, and 2024 will be the year for these approaches to come into the spotlight.

How can we provide coaching and support at scale to improve outcomes? 

Weight loss journeys are not solely reliant on a prescription; coaching and support play a crucial role in achieving sustainable results. But with millions of people in need of this support, there are simply not enough human coaches in the world to follow them, and this can lead to high churn rates and rapid weight re-gain. In 2024, the question of how to enhance outcomes through effective coaching methodologies will take center stage. Here again, we must be honest: everyday digital health and telemedicine platforms simply will not cut it. Approaches that can authentically replicate the human touch but do so using technology will come into the spotlight and become a requirement for any weight loss intervention.

What is the role for alternatives to GLP-1s?

While GLP-1s have dominated the discussion recently, 2024 will mark a turning point, sparking discussions about the role of alternatives. Whether due to cost concerns, side effects, or limited efficacy, individuals will seek alternative solutions tailored to their unique needs. This presents an opportunity to explore a diverse range of alternatives, including intensive behavioral therapy, non-invasive devices, and even surgical interventions. Approaches that embrace a multidimensional approach ensure that individuals have a choice and promote the development of evidence-based alternatives that are both effective and sustainable.

In 2024, the weight loss market finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with these pivotal questions that will shape the future. The winners will prioritize affordable lifelong care, scalable coaching and support, and a diverse set of solutions that give people second and third chances along their weight loss journeys. Ozempic and other medications are here to stay, but they will address a very, very small piece of a very, very big pie.

Photo: Jason Dean, Getty Images

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