Dr. Betsy Grunch lost weight dieting and while on a buzzy GLP-1 drug.
She said that medication can indeed make weight loss easier — and there shouldn't be a stigma about it.
Shaming people for using GLP-1 drugs could prevent them from getting the help they need, she said.
A doctor who has lost weight by both following a healthy diet and taking Mounjaro said the stigma around taking such drugs to lose weight — that it's wrong to take them because they make losing weight "easier" — prevents people from getting the help they need.
Dr. Betsy Grunch, a neurosurgeon specializing in spine surgery, had struggled for years to lose weight and keep it off on fad diets. In 2018 she started intermittent fasting — consuming all her food in a six- to eight-hour window — and eating a high-protein diet. She said she was able to lose 50 pounds and keep it off for four years.
In 2023, she decided she wanted to lose a few more pounds after her weight plateaued, but thought it wouldn't be possible without making her intermittent-fasting window even smaller — which felt too restrictive and unhealthy.
After consulting her doctor, she lost another 30 pounds using Mounjaro, the antidiabetic drug that is now marketed for weight loss as Zepbound. These medications are part of a buzzy class of appetite-suppressing drugs called GLP-1s that include Ozempic and Wegovy, which have come to mainstream attention over the past year. An estimated 9% of Americans will be taking a GLP-1 drug by 2030, J.P. Morgan Research predicted.
"It was really kind of life-changing to me because it was just so easy and so natural to lose weight," Grunch told Business Insider of taking Mounjaro. "It just came off so quick and almost effortlessly."
GLP-1s have reignited the debate around willpower and weight
The increased use of GLP-1s has shifted perspectives on weight in the medical community and society as a whole. Obesity is more widely recognized as a health condition that requires treatment like other diseases. In turn, many people who previously struggled to lose weight without medication feel vindicated that an apparent lack of willpower wasn't to blame.
At the same time, the drugs have reignited debates around the "right" and "wrong" way to lose weight, rooted in the idea that thinness is a virtue and weight loss needs to be a punishing process. Research shows that anti-fat bias can make it harder for people who are overweight to get proper medical care.
This view also ignores the drugs' potential side effects — including nausea and constipation — that lead many people to stop using them, and the fact they can profoundly alter a person's relationship with food. People on GLP-1s are usually encouraged to eat a healthy diet and exercise, which these drugs can make easier because they turn off the "food noise" in some patients' heads.
People shouldn't be judged for taking drugs that help them lose weight
When Grunch, who has 1.8 million TikTok followers, started losing weight, many viewers speculated she was on a GLP-1 and accused her of taking the "easy way out."
Mounjaro did make losing weight easier — Grunch said it just "poured off" her. But to Grunch, it shouldn't be difficult to access medication that improves people's lives, and yet she regularly comes across people who are too embarrassed to ask for help with weight loss because of its stigma.
"That's like being shamed about taking blood-pressure medicine," Grunch said. "Obesity and being overweight is a health condition and it should be treated and respected just like every other diagnosis that we treat people for. And I hate that people feel like they have to keep it quiet or be ashamed of taking it because we certainly don't treat other diseases that way."
Amid growing pressure on social media, Grunch decided to speak up about taking Mounjaro.
"The more and more frequent those comments were, almost on every single post I put up. And so I was like, 'You know what? F this, I want to be open and honest about it,'" Grunch said.
The video, which has 2.1 million views, was refreshing and relieved her stress, she said, and she wants more people in the public eye to open up about using GLP-1s.
Oprah Winfrey, for example, told a panel last September that she thought GLP-1s were "the easy way out," but revealed in December she was taking one.
"The fact that there's a medically approved prescription for managing weight and staying healthier, in my lifetime, feels like relief, like redemption, like a gift, and not something to hide behind and once again be ridiculed for," Winfrey said.
Grunch feels people treat her differently in a smaller body
As well as sparking interest on social media, Grunch said her weight loss has changed how patients view her.
Before losing weight, Grunch said she often felt awkward educating patients on the importance of being fit and maintaining a healthy body weight.
"No one ever said anything to me, but I was like, I'm the pot calling the kettle black here," she said. "I can't educate my patients properly and expect them to implement changes that I can't do myself. So that was also a big motivation to me."
While she believes some patients take her health advice more seriously because she is thinner — which she says isn't fair but is the reality of weight stigma — she said others feel they can open up to her because she understands them.
Research shows that shaming people into weight loss doesn't work, and, in fact, can lead to further weight gain.
People are more likely to lose weight when they're given guidance and encouragement rather than being judged and bullied, and Grunch said this is the approach she takes with her patients.
Grunch said her own experiences help her relate to patients who are trying to lose weight. By sharing her experience with Mounjaro, she hopes to help as many people as possible improve their health without shame.
Read the original article on Business Insider