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GLP-1 Agonist Survey: Popularity, Costs, and Age Groups

GLP-1 Agonist Survey: Popularity, Costs, and Age Groups

GLP-1 Obesity Medications Used by One in Eight US Adults, Survey Reveals

Survey Results on GLP-1 Agonist Use

A recent KFF Health Tracking Poll has found that one in eight American adults have used GLP-1 agonists, a class of drugs popular for weight loss and diabetes management. The survey, conducted in late April with nearly 1,500 adult participants, revealed that two-thirds of those currently using the drugs are doing so to manage diabetes or heart disease. Approximately four out of 10 are primarily using the medication for weight loss. According to the poll, around 6 percent of U.S. adults, or over 15 million people, are currently taking a prescribed medication from the GLP-1 agonist class of drugs.

Additional Findings

The survey also uncovered that among those who have ever taken GLP-1 agonists, 43 percent were diagnosed with diabetes, 25 percent with heart disease, and 22 percent were informed by a doctor within the last five years that they were overweight or obese. The reasons for using these drugs are almost evenly split: 39 percent of Americans use GLP-1 agonists to treat a chronic condition, while 38 percent use them for weight loss. The remaining 23 percent rely on the drugs for both chronic conditions and weight management.

Popularity and Cost of GLP-1 Agonists

The poll confirmed that these drugs have gained popularity over the past few years. According to the survey, 32 percent of adults now say they have heard “a lot” about GLP-1 agonists, an increase of 19 percent from July 2023. However, despite their growing popularity, 54 percent of all adults who have taken GLP-1 drugs find it difficult to afford the cost. One in five adults who took the drugs said it was “very difficult” to afford them. Even insured adults found the expenses challenging, with 53 percent reporting difficulties in bearing the costs.

GLP-1 Agonists and Age Groups

One in five adults aged 50-64 report having taken GLP-1 drugs at some point, a higher proportion compared to other age groups. Among this 50-64 age bracket, 15 percent indicate using these medications to treat chronic conditions, while 5 percent took them solely for weight loss purposes. Few adults under 50 have taken GLP-1 drugs for managing chronic illnesses, but similar shares of 18-29 year olds (7 percent) and 30-49 year olds (6 percent) have used them for weight loss goals.

Public Opinion on Medicare Coverage

While some insurance providers offer coverage for GLP-1 agonist drugs, Medicare does not cover these medications if they are prescribed for weight loss purposes. The poll reveals that only 8 percent of adults aged 65 and older took a GLP-1 drug for a chronic condition, and 1 percent used it solely for weight loss. This is despite 37 percent of poll respondents aged 65 and above reporting that a doctor had informed them they were overweight or obese. Most poll respondents believe that Medicare should begin covering prescription drugs for weight loss. In fact, 60 percent of adults who responded to the poll support Medicare providing coverage for such prescription medications.

GLP-1 Agonists: How They Work

Several GLP-1 agonists are available on the U.S. market for people with diabetes or who are obese, including Ozempic, Trulicity, Byetta, Victoza, Rybelsus, Adlyxin, and Bydureon. A similar class of medication called a GLP-1/GIP receptor agonist, such as Mounjaro, is also prescribed. Wegovy is a relatively newer GLP-1 agonist marketed specifically for those seeking to manage their weight. GLP-1 agonists work by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone naturally produced by the body. This hormone is secreted from the small intestine and is responsible for triggering insulin release, blocking glucagon secretion, and slowing stomach emptying. It also helps create a feeling of fullness after eating by affecting areas of the brain that process hunger and satiety signals.

Closing Thoughts

The use of GLP-1 agonists for weight loss and chronic disease management is evidently widespread, but the costs associated with these drugs remain a significant barrier for many. It's interesting to note the public's desire for Medicare to cover these medications, despite current legal prohibitions. What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you believe Medicare should cover weight loss prescriptions? Share your thoughts and this article with your friends. Don't forget to sign up for the Daily Briefing, which is everyday at 6pm.

Some articles will contain credit or partial credit to other authors even if we do not repost the article and are only inspired by the original content.

Some articles will contain credit or partial credit to other authors even if we do not repost the article and are only inspired by the original content.

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