Low Uptake of Antiobesity Medications Explored in Patient Perception Survey

ObesityWeek®2022

Among nearly 1000 persons with obesity who would meet body mass index (BMI) eligibility criteria for use of antiobesity medications (AOMs) to support weight management, nearly two-thirds were “unaware of prescription AOMs,” according to findings of the OBSERVE study, presented during ObesityWeek® 2022, held in San Diego, CA, and virtually, November 1-4, 2022.

OBSERVE investigators also found, however, that half of the study participants would be “likely” or “very likely” to try a newly approved AOM.

As context for their research, investigators led by Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness, in Washington, DC, write that despite the availability of several AOMs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, only a small percentage of those who qualify have ever used them. The OBSERVE study was designed to help identify barriers to wider use of the medications by learning more about patient perceptions.

Kahan et al conducted a cross sectional, web-based survey between May and June 2022, across a diverse US sample of persons with obesity or overweight. Investigators were specifically interested in survey participants with a BMI 27-29.9 kg/m2 with ≥1 comorbidity or BMI>30 kg/m2, according to their abstract.

The survey questioned participants about their personal history with AOMs and probed their perceptions about a hypothetical newly approved weight management medication.

Overall, there were 917 survey participants who had a mean BMI of 36.0 kg/m2. The group’s mean age was 47.2 years, 62.8% were women and 53.3% identified as White.


Two-thirds (64.2%) of survey respondents were unaware of AOMs. And while only 19.9% had ever taken one, 49.5% said they would be “likely” or “very likely” to try a newly approved AOM. Likelihood rose to 69.1% if the medication was recommended by their primary health care provider.


The study authors found that two-thirds (64.2%) of survey respondents were unaware of AOMs. And while only 1 in 5 (19.9%) had ever taken a medication for weight loss, 49.5% said they would be “likely” or “very likely” to try a newly approved AOM. Further, the likelihood of trying a new AOM rose to 69.1% of survey respondents if the medication was recommended by their primary health care provider.

There were a number of additional factors that would influence an AOM trial: 66.7% would likely try an AOM if it helped ameliorate obesity-related illnesses and 67.1% would try one if it were covered by insurance. Close to half (46.9%) of the participants were receptive to taking an AOM long-term (35.8% undecided).

The greatest concern expressed by respondents was related to costs of AOMs (61.4% “quite a bit” or “very” concerned) and the potential for side effects in the future (55.1%).

In response to questions about reasons for stopping an AOM, participants who had been previously treated cited the most common as a recommendation from a health care provider (up to 31.1%), development of side effects (25.0%), and cost (up to 20.6%).

In their conclusion, Kahan and colleagues point to clinician recommendations, insurance coverage, cost, side effects, and potential treatment duration as factors they found most likely to influence a patient’s decision to take an AOM. They suggest that improved effective utilization of currently available AOMs may depend on “greater health care professional understanding of benefits, risks, and optimal use” and on support to help health care professionals communicate that information to their eligible patients.


Reference: Kaplan LM, Kumar R, Ahmad NN, et al. Experience and perception of anit-obesity medications among persons with obesity or overweight. Abstract presented at ObesityWeek® 2022; November 1-4, 2022; San Diego, CA.